Biosphere group seeks funding

Sebastien Goupil, Secretary-General of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, speaks at a Frontenac Arch Biosphere Network meeting on Oct. 30 alongside Ellie Haine-Bennett, a program officer for the commission, during the announcement of the renewal of the local reserve's UNESCO mandate. (FILE PHOTO) jpg, BT

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The Frontenac Arch Biosphere (FAB) is asking local municipalities to help ensure its survival.

Executive director Julie Servant said the organization needs municipalities to make an annual contribution to “ensure the financial stability of the biosphere.”

“We’re interested in strengthening our partnerships with municipal governments,” Servant said this week.

“We have received support from some of the municipalities for programs and projects this year and we are grateful. However we are here to ask for a consistent level of support from the townships. This is a local organization that needs local support.”

FAB is part of a worldwide network of 669 UNESCO biosphere reserves in 120 countries, including 18 in Canada and four in Ontario. Its unique geography covers an area that stretches from Brockville west to beyond Gananoque, north as far as Athens, Westport and the Rideau River, covering most of Leeds and part of South Frontenac.

Earlier this year, the not-for-profit organization went public with its money woes, casting doubt on the UNESCO-designated site’s ability to carry on.

Servant said it has reduced its operating costs and has still managed to “leverage significant funds for projects within the biosphere.”

The organization is projecting a total revenue of just over $27,000 in 2020 with projected expenses of $58,700 – leaving a shortfall of nearly $32,000.

This is the exact ask of local municipalities.

“We would like to ask for a collective contribution from municipalities within the biosphere. A $32,000 contribution would support the biosphere in 2020 as we work toward increasing our revenues.”

The funding would help ensure the long-term sustainability of the network, she said.

FAB wouldn’t entirely rely on municipalities for financial support; it knows it needs to acquire funding from multiple sources such as fundraising and grant applications.

In 2019 the organization raised just over $13,000 for the biosphere, and it has “attracted over $1.1 million through grants and by providing beneficial services in the biosphere” in the last five years.

They think, however, that in the long term they will need to raise much more money to be able to reach their full potential.

“In order for a biosphere to properly function over the long term and to properly deliver the UNESCO mandate, we figure it would run at approximately $150,000 per year which allows for staff to implement programs as needed,” Servant said.

The organization operates a summer camp, PA day and March Break camps at Kendrick’s Park and the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area, and it wants to expand the type of programming not only to increase educational programming but also to generate more income.

FAB says the intersection of the Frontenac Arch and the St. Lawrence River Valley forms “one of the great crossroads of the continent.” The arch connects the Canadian Shield boreal forest to the forests of the Adirondack and Appalachian Mountains, forming a south to north/north to south migration route.

“The Frontenac Arch Biosphere is at the very centre of that intersection, where five forest regions merge, creating a tremendous wildlife diversity,” FAB says on its website.

Individual mayors on counties council will take the FAB request back to their respective municipal councils.

sbedford@postmedia.com

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