BR Managers Course, Jeju-Korea 2013

Report by Carlota Marañón

Final Report of Training course for Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserve Managers, Jeju-Korea, October 21-25, 2013

The opportunity to participate in the “UNESCO Training course for Coastal and Island Biosphere Reserves managers” in Jeju Island has been illuminating for us. Since on Samothraki we did not, like other participants, have much experience on managing BRs, this was a unique opportunity to learn and build from the very beginning a solid management structure before the inclusion to the World Network of BRs.

When visiting the various locations of Jeju Island BR, its forest and museums, one could really understand the richness of the Island and could gain an overview of all the effort that has been put at Jeju BR during the last years. The efficient organization of the training course, with a neat combination of theoretical and practical activities, provided us with a holistic concept of the BR functions and management. Their hospitality and the rich gastronomic culture added to the pleasure of knowledge exchange, while sharing the will and ideas towards sustainable development worldwide.

During the training course we collected interesting literature for the study of Island and Coastal BRs. The case of Menorca, well described along with others in the publications “Best practices of island and coastal BRs” and “World Network of Island and coastal Area BRs” provides an example for us to follow.

The lectures from each BR invited at the course (Vietnam, Indonesia, Yemen, China, Australia, South Africa, Mauritius and Greece) were a big help in increasing the ties and facilitating the dialogue between participants. From this dialogue and the daily coexistence with other managers came also a better understanding of the diversity of management structure for each BR: Some financed at national level, others at regional or local level, some managed by a public body, others by private organizations. The role of the international organizations and the private donors was also discussed. Working in small groups facilitated the discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of each system.

Especially related to Samothraki were lectures related to:

  1. Ecotourism: some examples on how to reduce the accumulation of tourists over a very short period of time and how to spread the season in a sustainable way by attracting specialized groups of tourists during the off-season.
  2. The economic value of Nature and estimation methods learned during this training course, because the non-market values are those that make Samothraki special.
  3. The political dimensions of the Man and Biosphere Program. This is of crucial importance for Samothraki because it is a border island. The relations between Greece and Turkey have been tense for many centuries. Since islands from both countries share rich marine life and the Turkish part is not protected by European Law (Natura 2000) it will be of great benefit to both parts to achieve a transboundary BR that could engage both countries in the future.

Finally, the great effort made by the Asia Climate Change Education Center, and especially by its director Dai-Yeun Jeong, to transmit us the importance of Climate Change and the Green Growth Industry and the effort made by Korea to be a leading country in environmental education was very useful. We thank him very much for his kind offer of further training in this field.

The first steps after the training course will be:

  1. Strengthen communication inside and outside the island: Ensure that everyone understands the meaning of being a BR and the possibilities of sustainable development that it brings. Keep in contact with the network (exchange information) and create new ties with the Spanish BR Net.
  2. Create a Radio program to talk about some aspects of a BR.
  3. Educational programs: Mainly with the existing associations on Samothraki.
  4. Training for local people: composting, alternative pesticides, voluntary work.
  5. Efforts to calculate the economic value of Samothraki’s future BR.
  6. Develop ecotourism activities.

We would like send our thanks and appreciation to Miguel Crüsener-Godt from UNESCO-MAB for his continuous presence and his useful explanations about the MAB program; to Dai-Yeun Jeong and Do-Soon Cho that shared their knowledge and time with us; to Sung Hoon kim, to Boo Dae-gil for the support of Jeju Secretariat to this training course; to Youngsoo Chun that couldn’t be present but whose presence we could feel though the wise organization of the course; to Minsuk Kang for his explanations at the Jeju BR sites, and especially to Sung Jun Pang for his patience, his permanent availability and his professional care; to the invited managers of the BRs that gave us so much advice; to Menorca Secretariat; to the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Program, and to all those who helped this happen.

Carlota Marañón Marquina. Lawyer, Journalist and founding Member of the Association “Sustainable Samohtraki”, Greece.