UNESCO has declared 3rd November ‘International Day for Biosphere Reserves'. We are meeting some of the people who make our Biosphere special and speaking to them about their contribution to it and how it inspires them.
Dr Fiona Gell
Marine conservation and climate policy specialist and writer.
How does living and working in a UNESCO Biosphere inspire you?
UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man has a wealth of coastal and marine ecosystems that amaze me with their capacity to protect, nurture and inspire people. I work on the ways in which the marine environment can help us reduce the impacts of climate change and adapt to those changes already underway and it inspires me to be able to visit special habitats like saltmarshes, seagrass meadows and kelp forests that are on our doorstep.
What do you gain from being involved in your Biosphere?
I came back to the Isle of Man to do marine biological research and stayed to work in marine conservation and protecting the Manx marine environment has been my passion for as long as I can remember. Biosphere highlights that we need to take care of our environment not only because it is beautiful and diverse and brings us joy, but also because a healthy environment is central to our survival, now more than ever.
How would you encourage others to get involved in the Biosphere, too?
The Biosphere concept brilliantly brings together environment, culture and community in a unique way and provides a focus to celebrate what is good, special and sustainable about our Island and a real impetus to improve in the areas where there is still a lot of work to do. For this to be successful people from all walks of life and disciplines need to get involved and can really benefit from becoming part of the solution.
What’s your favourite natural place in the Biosphere and why?
Ramsey Bay Marine Nature Reserve, from the Point of Ayre to Gob ny Rona has always been such a special place to me and the inspiration for my book, 'Spring Tides'. Underwater it is a wonderland of emerald green eelgrass meadows, bright pink maerl beds and horse mussel reefs jumping with life. It is also home to an innovative fisheries management initiative that embodies Biosphere principles perfectly, combining ecosystem protection, healthy fisheries and climate action.
What’s the one thing visitors to the Biosphere should experience and enjoy, and why? Can be a location, activity, cultural experience, food, etc?
Get onto the beach and into the sea! Go rockpooling, snorkelling or diving and get a glimpse of our spellbinding marine life.
Poyll Dooey Nature Reserve just up the Sulby River from Ramsey town centre is a hidden gem. One of the Island’s few saltmarshes and a haven for wildlife.
What makes you proud of your Biosphere?
Biosphere celebrates the things I love about the Isle of Man: our fabulous biodiversity, our collaborative approach to marine conservation, our rich Manx heritage and our thriving language. It also acknowledges that meaningful environmental sustainability is a work in progress, which needs the support of our whole community to achieve.
Sum up what Biosphere means to you in one word?