A POLICY STATEMENT ON BIOSPHERE RESERVES

Among the major controversies which have become a part of the public debate concerning the most appropriate future for Land Between the Lakes, none has engendered more heat, and less light, than the Biosphere Reserve issue. Before proposing a "solution" to this problem, it seems appropriate to review some of the relevant facts.

The U.S. Man and the Biosphere program is an outgrowth of the 1970 General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). More than 125 nations participate in MAB programs; in each country, plans and actions at the national level are decided at the national level.

There are strong feelings, both pro and con, about affiliation with the United Nations. Historically, it seems fair to say, UN rhetoric has been much better than its performance, and its performance has, by no means, been of uniform quality. On peace keeping we might award a D-; on the "children's" fund we might award a C+; etc.

The issue of national sovereignty arises in any and all activities involving international organizations; the Red Cross, the International Whaling Treaties, and the Man and the Biosphere programs; are all cases in point. Many of us, in the U.S., are deeply concerned about our sovereignty; but by no means as concerned as are the representatives of third world nations - many of which are still striving to recover the sovereignty lost to colonialism. Thus, each of us regards, with varying degrees of skepticism and optimism, the mission of the U.S. MAB program:

The mission of the United States Man and the Biosphere Program is to explore, demonstrate, promote, and encourage harmonious relationships between people and their environments - building on a network of biosphere reserves and interdisciplinary research. The long term goal of the U.S. MAB Program is to contribute to achieving a sustainable society early in the 21st century.

After reviewing the performance of Biosphere Reserves (especially at the Great Smokies and Mammoth Cave) and the rather voluminous literature available, the Concept Zero Task Force chose as its policy position, to support vigorously the stated goals of the Biosphere Reserve program. However, in keeping with its commitment to achieving more significant policy input at the local and regional levels, the Task Force has taken the position that the question of LBL's affiliation with the United Nations is one which a) requires further study, and b) should be determined by those of us most directly affected by the decision. In short, the Task Force supports the stated goals of the program, but reserves judgement on the best means of achieving them.

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