Monday 5
Thinking protected areas as social-ecological systems
Raphael Mathevet
› 11:00 - 18:00 (7h)
› Centre du Scamandre Vauvert
Conserving that which we have created – managing for urban living in the North Bull Island UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
Maryann Harris  1, *@  , Tamara Hochstrasser  2, *@  
1 : University College Dublin - School of Biology and Environmental Science  (UCD - SBES)  -  Website
Science Centre West, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4 Republic of Ireland -  Irlande
2 : University College Dublin  (UCD)  -  Website
University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4 Republic of Ireland -  Irlande
* : Corresponding author

Within Dublin Bay is the North Bull Island UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (BR), designated in 1981 in the ‘first generation' of biospheres. This is the only BR in the world which is entirely situated in a capital city. Since the millennium, while Ireland has designated much of Dublin Bay, it has also experienced the most significant and rapid period of urbanisation in the Dublin metropolitan region – at one stage the fastest-growing area of the EU (source). The paradox of how urban areas can be highly biodiverse and yet urbanisation pressures can threaten biodiversity is illustrated in this unique site.

North Bull Island, a conservation area of multiple international designations for flora and fauna, owes it genesis a single human intervention two hundred years ago – construction of the North Wall of Dublin Port for navigation purposes. Like other ‘first-generation' BR's, there has always been a strong focus on biodiversity conservation, maintained by deliberate strategies to arrest ecological succession. The focus of biodiversity management of biospheres internationally has shifted to sustainable use with the Seville Strategy, an important step towards integrating biosphere reserves with their wider socio-cultural environment. With respect to North Bull Island, this has two implications: 1) North Bull Island has been managed for sustainable use ever since it has been designated as a biosphere due to its significant role as a recreational destination for urban dwellers. Some lessons can be learned from how challenges arising from human use have been addressed on the island for the past decades; 2) modernising the biosphere zonation models illustrates the resources provided by the biosphere to the surrounding community and urban green spaces and also highlights some of the potential impacts that may arise from the urban surroundings on the conservation areas of the biosphere. To manage these impacts effectively, the wider socio-ecological context in which the designated Natura 2000 sites of Bull Island are situated needs to be considered. The natural asset represented by the island can be used to gather community support for its sustainable management.

In our presentation we will highlight some of the current measures in place to manage the recreation use and other threats to the conservation interests of the island. The current asset that this man-made island represents is of great significance to the wider community and recognizing this asset in a biosphere designation is but one step in harnessing the ecosystem services it supplies to the wider community.


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