Carol W. LaGrasse, from Positions on Property Vol. 2, No. 1 (Jan. 1995)

A Little-Known NPS Program
Biosphere Reserves
The International Vanguard of Rural Depopulation

Even before “conservation biologist” Reed Noss and radical environmentalist David Foreman joined hands to promote the deep ecologists’ dream of re-wilding the country and ousting the human population eco-region by eco-region I pointed out my suspicions about the United Nations Biosphere reserve designations.

“Advocates for biosphere reserve designation are careful never to admit that human populations would be displaced by biosphere reserve status. Reports of this sort of thing can acceptably reach the United States from abroad but forced depopulation is not acceptable within the United States. During 1991 the Wolong Nature Preserve in Tibet saw the forced evacuation of Tibetan people to make room for the Giant Panda in a United Nations biosphere reserve. Gordon Davis, who was an advisor to the New York Governor’s Commission (on the Adirondacks), helped the Chinese government draft the land-use regulations for the preserve, where the people have worked the land for hundreds of years. Davis said that Tibetans are complaining that the government considers the pandas to be more important than people.”(1)

Since Davis was a pivotal Adirondack environmentalist and since the Adirondack-Champlain Biosphere reserve had just been secretly designated in 1989, it was significant that the Tibetan experience under his involvement was in line with Adirondack preservation efforts. The Tibetan program was a revealing United Nations mistake early in the game and would be a more truthful indicator of the real drift of the biosphere reserves than the official pronouncements about making it easier for rural people to live in harmony with their environment.

The truth about the biosphere reserve vision had been buried in technical journals and now, over three years later, is blatantly confirmed by Noss and Foreman.

The United Nations UNESCO Biosphere Reserve program divides the world into biomes, which are major types of natural environments such as the “temperate broadleaf forests or woodlands and sub-polar deciduous thickets,” of the Eastern United States and Europe. The goal of the Biosphere Reserve program is to preserve example biological systems — at least one of each major subdivision of each biome — intact for the indefinite future. Since it began in 1971, the United Nations Man and Biosphere (MAB) program has designated over 300 reserves in 75 countries, totalling 405 million acres.

In the United States, The National Park Service administrates the biosphere reserve programs in conjunction with the Department of State.

The biosphere reserve boundaries are not supposed to be static. The Biosphere Reserves are centered around a core, with a buffer zone and a transition zone idealized as two successive rings around the core. (diagram) The core is to ever expand into the next ring as it is cleaned up ecologically and the people emptied out. Meanwhile, the buffer is to work its way into the transition zone as the transition zone improves in ecological integrity.

Because new industries and houses are kept out of the buffer zone, it is programmed for imminent or gradual financial ruin, and will ultimately be melded into the wild “core” area. Experiments and studies are conducted in the buffer area ostensibly as part of research on the interrelationship of people and the environment, but actually these are to document the “damaging” effects of development and the “succession, regeneration and restoration of degraded ecosystems,” all related to clearing the people and their intrusions out, which, of course, is never put in so many words. The outer, transition zone, or “zone of cooperation,” keeps expanding as well.

The three rings are designed to work like PAC man, the wilderness core eating into the buffer, the buffer into the transition, and the outer transition zone into the area beyond the edge of the official biosphere reserve, laying waste people, cities, economies, and local representative democracy in their wake.

According to technical journals, government is to become regionalized, crossing town, county and even state and national boundaries.

In the Northeast it was no accident that the 26 million acre Northern Forest Lands federal study area and failed Northern Forest Lands Council plan came on the heels of the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere designation and that the Audubon Society and Sierra Club are now focusing preservation efforts on the Great Northern Forest eco-region.

The October 1994 National Geographic propaganda on the National Parks, which received Bruce Babbitt’s imprimatur, states that “voices can be heard demanding park status for the Maine woods,”(2) in an effort to drum up support for the big focus related to the Northern Forest among its supporters.

The Biosphere Reserve designation even for as large an area as 10 million acres for the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve, is only one useful step in the greenlining process — the process of ever-more government environmental controls on land and government acquisition of land, which now can be seen to be so blatantly part of a vision to depopulate rural America.

The Northern Forest Lands is a biosphere reserve concept. The Adirondack-Champlain Biosphere Reserve could easily blend into the Northern Forest Lands, which would stretch across to the Maine coastal biosphere reserve that has been proposed. Ultimately, northern New York and New England would be systematically depopulated.

The National Park Service knows that the “honor” of biosphere reserve designation is not popular locally. When people in Minnesota found out that they would be residents of an international Voyageur’s biosphere reserve, they organized effectively to stop the process in 1987. That biosphere reserve would have also included the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and a portion of Canada, the Quetico Park. Although mapped, the Canadian part of the Adirondack-Champlain Biosphere Reserve was left out of the initial designation.

The defeat of the international Voyageur’s biosphere reserve has not been allowed to rest. Instead, the biosphere reserve idea was transmuted this year by the National Park Service proposal for “wilderness” designation of 90% of the 200,000 acre Voyageur’s National Park. This proposal was also dropped in the furor created by local opposition.

“Voyageur’s National Park was always intended as a multi-use recreation area,” said their local congressman, the powerful Democrat, James L. Oberstar, angry that he was not consulted.(3)

It is not hard to conclude that the National Park Service implementation of the biosphere reserves is first a step toward federal land use control through federal ecosystem management(4) and ultimately would lead toward international control of biologically restored land in the U.S. Although the biosphere reserves are not named in the controversial Rio De Janeiro Convention on Biological Diversity, the terms of the proposed treaty are consistent with the biosphere reserve methodologies and thinking (low or no-technology “sustainable use,” biodiversity surveys and preservation of biodiversity.) This is the legacy of the National Park Service, which indeed is part of Bruce Babbitt’s Department of Interior, where a staff of 1,850 is mobilized conducting the National Biological Survey rejected by Congress.

The environmental community is not one to come up with new ideas. The same little, incredibly wealthy gaggle bandy new names around but it is the same concepts and the same backers. Their biosphere reserves, wildlands, biodiversity, and re-introduction of predators are faces of the same coin.

The concerns about international control of land in rural America have appropriately focused on the Earth Summit proposed Biodiversity Convention. Some analysts believe that the Manhattan Project-like intensity of the illicit National Biological Survey is to ready the data for implementation of the Biodiversity Convention during the Clinton/Gore Administration. The biosphere reserves are the ideal focus of biodiversity and ideal units of treaty implementation.

The biosphere reserve designations have a low profile as the Biological Diversity Convention jets ahead. They will rear up as regulatory venues for the international Biodiversity Convention if it is ratified and, unless the program is deliberately eliminated by Congress, will become an overt focus of the wildlands program and remain an unofficial focus of National Park Service land-use planning.

The biosphere reserves are couched as research programs and plans to create “sustainable development.” Conservation biologists are careful never to define sustainable development. It means primitive, pre-technological means of meeting human needs. The word “development” in this context is an oxymoron. Journals where the supporters report their ideas dispute allusions to prosperous humanity inside the reserves. The technical literature shows that the nature of the biosphere reserve research is about how to restore the “indefinite” ever-expanding buffer and transition area of biosphere reserves to primeval condition, uninfluenced by human habitations and use. Now that the phrase “re-wild” exists, we can use it to apply to biosphere reserves, since all the terms, core, buffer transition, and land bridges (or corridors) match.

The National Park Service and UN biosphere reserves and the radical wildlands program are one and the same.

According to UNESCO, Biosphere Reserves are not just another sort of protected areas given another name. The designation must be made effective by guaranteeing their protection by legislation and/or management.(5)

(1) Carol W. LaGrasse, “A Dubious Honor: International Wilderness Designations Eat Up Rural Communities,” An Indictment of Government by the People of the Adirondacks 1992, p50.
(2) John G. Mitchell, “Our National Parks,” National Geographic October 1994, p54.
(3) Alston Chase, “Park System ‘Off Limits’ to Humans - Would Lock Up Half of Natural Park System,” Speak Up America March 15, 1994.
(4) See Henry Lambe “Ecologic Special Report: Federal Land Use Control Through Federal Ecosystem Management,” Environmental Conservation Organization (Nashville) July 4, 1994.
(5) “Action plan for biosphere reserves,” Nature and Resources UNESCO MAB, Vol XX, No. 4, Oct-Dec 1984, p4.

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