Man has learnt important lessons about the natural environment around him. In order to co-exist, Man and the Biosphere must complement and respect each other. Man’s discovery of this has come only after his imposition and the resulting and increasing unpredictability of nature. Balance comes when man understands that he must exist with nature without obstructing its flow. In other words he must develop himself around rather than in spite of nature. When this happens; both man and nature thrive and that is what the St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve (SMBR) is all about. While the world has found itself in “corrective mode” having missed the opportunity to prevent some of the environmental issues with which we are faced climate change etc.), programmes like Man and the Biosphere provide avenues of recovery.
When with guidance from the National Commission for UNESCO relevant stakeholders grabbed hold of the concept of the Man and the Biosphere, St. Mary’s (Keys, Canada, Cayon) was identified as the ideal location for development/implementation. The area having several naturalattributes, being extremely bio-diverse, claiming outstanding cultural heritage as well as a vibrant village life was thought to provide the ideal opportunity. The special focus of the site is its biodiversity as well as supporting the indigenous peoples and recognizing the value of their knowledge systems. Village participation in preserving the outstanding mosaic of natural and cultural landscape values was recognized as key. It is an innovative approach to economic development that is socially and culturally appropriate and environmentally sustainable.