Property Rights Foundation of America®

10. U.S. Man and Biosphere program (US MAB)
(Latest update 2001)

Department of State, U.S.A.
Bureau of Oceans and International Affairs
Washington, DC 20522-0102

(202) 261-8106
Fax (202) 261-8109

Key Personnel

Dr. Roger E. Soles, Director, US MAB
D. Dean Bibles, Chair, U.S. MAB, Director, Policy on Land Tenure, Department of the Interior
Dr. William P. Gregg, Chief, International Affairs Office National Biological Survey, Department of the Interior
Rafe Pomerance, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Department of State
Dr. Peter Bridgewater, Director UNESCO MAB


See Board of Directors.



Coalition Involvements

Adirondack Park Agency—The Adirondack-Champlain Biosphere Reserve Committee chair has been Ed Hood at the APA.

An informational flyer for US MAB listed the following "Associated Agencies and Institutions":

Adirondack Park Agency
Agency for International Development
Audubon Society
Borderlands Sonoran Inst.
Cal. Dept. of Forestry & Fire Protection
Cal. Dept. of Parks & Recreation
City of San Francisco
Economic Development Admin.
Environmental Protection Agency
Fla. Dept. of Environmental Protection
Ga. Dept. of Natural Resources
Grandfather Mountain Inc., N.C.
Kansas State Univ.
Little St. Simons Island, Ga.
Marin County Municipal Water Dist., Cal.
National Aeronautics * Space Admin.
National Institutes of Health
National Science Fdn.
N.Y. Department of Environmental Conservation
N.C. Dept. of Environment, Health & Natural Resources
Peace Corps
Puerto Rico Dept. of Natural Resources
Smithsonian Inst.
S.C. Dept. of Natural Resources
Southern Appalachian MAB Cooperative
Stanford Univ.
Tennessee Valley Authority
Tenn. Dept. of Environmental Conservation
The Nature Conservancy
The Pinelands Commission, N.J.
U.S. Army - Corps of Engineers
U.S. Dept. Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service
U.S. Dept. Commerce - National Oceanic & Atmospheric Admin.
U.S. Dept. Energy]
U.S. Dept Interior - Bur. Land Management
U.S. Dept. Interior - Fish & Wildlife Service
U.S. Dept. Interior - Geological Survey
U.S. Dept. Interior - National Park Service
U.S. Dept. State
Univ. Alaska
Univ. California
Univ. Colorado
Univ. Maryland
Univ. Miami
Univ. Michigan
Univ. South Carolina
Univ. Tennessee
Univ. Washington
Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
Weyerhaeuser Co.

Organization Description and Goals

History and general:

The Biosphere Reserve program is designed to preserve pristine areas representative of all of the world's biological regions. It originated in 1970 at the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), where the International Coordinating Council (ICC) for MAB was chartered.

Unlike the 1972 UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage under which World Heritage Sites are designated, the Biosphere Reserve program was never approved by treaty. In 1983 the Congress rejected the bill to formally involve the United States in the program. Nonetheless, 47 Biosphere Reserves have been approved in the United States and the U.S. Department of State, working especially with the National Park Service, carries out the program as though it has been statutorily created.

Biosphere Reserves are supposedly for study and research, but all of the research is for restoration of disturbed regions to a status before human habitation. The program's serves a goal to depopulate a region and restore it to wilderness.

Core, Buffer, and Transition zones; and Land Bridges:

Biosphere Reserves are comprised of three concentric areas, core, buffer, and transition areas. The areas can be connected by "land bridges," or "corridors," for the movement of biological species, with the concern being to facilitate migrations during global climatic upheavals.

"The core consists of examples of minimally disturbed ecosystems characteristic of the world's terrestrial or coastal/marine regions. A core area has secure legal protection, for example, as a strict nature preserve...Although natural processes normally operate unimpeded by human intervention, active human intervention, such as by prescribed fire or controlled grazing, may be needed in certain subclimax ecosystems to maintain the natural characteristics of the site." (Vernhes, J. R., "Biosphere Reserves-The Beginnings, The Present and The Future Challenges," Proceedings of the Symposium of Biosphere Reserves, MAB, Sept. 14-17, 1987, p. 9, emphasis added.)

In the Adirondacks, the core area would encompass the State-owned land but the core designation is inconsistent with the continued existence of interstate, state, county and town roads; continued use of the State-owned land for hunting, off-road vehicle use, cross country skiing, and trail hiking; the continuance of the system of improvements for hiking, camping, boating, administration and maintenance; disabled access; and fire suppression for protection of property and lives.

"The second zone, the Buffer zone, adjoins or surrounds the core area." Its outer limits correspond with those of a protected area such as a national park. Its function is to buffer the core from any harmful outside disturbance. The activities allowed "serve the multiple objectives of the biosphere reserve and can include basic and applied research, environmental monitoring, traditional land use, recreation and tourism, general environmental education, and specialist training." (Vernhes, p. 9, emphasis added.)

The private land within the current Adirondack Park boundaries is designated the buffer zone. The variety of the 100-odd towns and villages, the many highways, and the variety of industries in the region enclosed by the Blue Line are not consistent with the classification.

The outermost ring of the Biosphere Reserve is the "transition zone." This is to be an "ever-expanding cooperation zone where the work of the biosphere reserve is applied to the needs of the local communities of the region." (Vernhes, p. 9, emphasis added.)

The transition zone designated for the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve includes cities and industrial centers, and is intensely in conflict with the official description of transition zones. Vernhes' description, which agrees with official MAB publications, states:

"The transition zone may contain settlements, fields, pastures, forests and other economic activities which are in harmony with the natural environment and the biosphere reserve. This zone of cooperation is particularly useful in helping the biosphere reserve to integrate into the planning process of its surrounding region."
(Vernhes, p. 9)

Data Base:

The U.S. Department of State has negotiated a memorandum of understanding with UNESCO MAB to bring the data base of US MAB under the direct administration of UNESCO MAB, which has a world-wide database called "BRIM" (said by US MAB to stand for Biodiversity Resources for Inventorying and Monitoring).

Board of Directors (not applicable, because this is a government program)

U.S. National Committee for the Man and the Biosphere Program (1995)

D. Dean Bibles, Chair, US MAB; Dir., Policy on Land Tenure, Dept. Interior
Dr. Robert Campbell, Forestry Research, Weyerhaeuser Co.
Dr. Robert Costanza, Center for Environmental & Estuarine Studies, Univ. Md.
Dr. Michael P. Crosby, Office of Ocean & Coastal Resource Management, National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Admin., Dept. Commerce
Dr. Francisco Dallmeier, Dir., SI/MAB Biological Diversity Program, Smithsonian Inst.
Dr. Jerry W. Elwood, Office of Health & Environmental Research, Dept. Energy
Dr. Sally K. Fairfax, Dept. Forestry & Resource Conservation, Univ. Cal., Berkeley
Dr. Dennis, B. Fenn, Assoc. Dir. for Natural Resources, Natl. Park Service, Dept. Int.
Dr. Ralph M. Garruto, Supervisory Research Biologist, National Institutes of Health
Dr. William P. Gregg, Chief, Internat'l Affairs Off., National Biological Surv., Dept. Int.
Dr. Mark A. Harwell, Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, Univ. Miami
Hubert H. Hinote, Exec. Dir., Southern Appalachian MAB Cooperative
Dr. Twig Johnson, Dir., Off. of Environment & Natural Resources, Agency for International Development
Dr. Peter R. Jutro, Sr. Scientist, Environmental Protection Agency
Dr. Jack Kruse, Inst. of Social Economic Research, Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy, Former Chair, U.S. MAB, Assist. Sec. for External Affairs, Smithsonian Inst.
Dr. Robert J. Naiman, Dir., Center for Streamside Studies, Univ. Washington
Rafe Pomerance, Dep. Assist. Sec., Bur. of Oceans & International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Dept. State
Dr. JoAnne P. Roskoski, Directorate for Biological Sciences, National Science Fdn.
Dr. Milton Russell, Dir., Joint Inst. for Energy & Environment, Univ. Tenn., Knoxville
Dr. Roger E. Soles, Exec. Dir., U.S. MAB Secretariat, Dept. State
Dr. Barbara Weber, Associate Dep. Chief for Research, Forest Service, Dept. Agriculture
Dr. Diane E. Wickland, Off. of Mission to Planet Earth, National Aeronautics & Space Administration


The Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere application was secretly submitted by the Adirondack Park Agency (under Ed Hood's signature), and designated in 1989 without the knowledge of the people or elected officials in the region. The designation became public knowledge when the boundaries of the Biosphere Reserve were shown on the map of a new "transition zone" on the large map of planned State acquisition of land contained in the report of the Twenty-first Century Commission on the Adirondacks in 1990.

According to the U.S. Department of State, the work of the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve had been a failure in the immediate sense because of a small group of property rights activists, but the Biosphere Reserve has been successful in generating support for two federal regulatory programs to preserve the region—Northern Forest Lands program and the Lake Champlain Basin program—which it states will be "building blocks" of the BR program. (US MAB, Biosphere Reserves in Action-Case Studies of the American Experience, forward by Dr. William Gregg, June 1995, p.14.)

Ironically, the biggest setback for the Biosphere Reserve program was the designation that included the Adirondack region, because this designation alerted property rights activists in northern New York to the program. Through the Property Rights Foundation Rights Foundation of America, Congressman Jerry Solomon became involved, and in 1995, as a result, the Catskill Mountains Biosphere Reserve application was withdrawn. Furthermore, PRFA generated literature that was usable elsewhere in the United States, and the next year the Ozark Highlands Biosphere Reserve application was terminated. No new Biosphere Reserves have been designated in the United States and a bill called "The American Land Sovereignty Protection Act" that would cancel all existing Biosphere Reserves in the United States has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is before the U.S. Senate.

For further information about UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, consult additional publications available from the Property Rights Foundation of America, including Carol W. LaGrasse's 1999 testimony before the United States Senate.

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