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By VIU Communications’ Dane Gibson 

Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism and VIU are asking for residents’ and visitors’ support to shine a light on the incredible experiences they have within one of the most ecologically significant regions on Vancouver Island—the UNESCO designated Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region MABR.

Thanks to funding provided by Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism, Destination BC and support from VIU the Amazing Places project is being launched to ask the community to nominate 10 Amazing Places within the MABR that inspire them most. The nomination process is open from September 10-30 and the submission guidelines are simple: to nominate a place, you must think it is amazing, it must be publically accessible, and it must have ecological significance.

“We’re lucky in that everywhere you turn there is amazing natural beauty, no matter what time of year,” said Blain Sepos, Parksville-Qualicum Beach Tourism executive director. “With Amazing Places we are asking people to think about where they feel most connected to nature within the biosphere. The beauty is that there are so many places in the MABR that are awe-inspiring and each place impacts people in different ways. Through our efforts we hope to get people to nominate the natural spaces within the biosphere that they return to again and again, or they discover unexpectedly throughout the year.”

Amazing Places is a national UNESCO biosphere reserve project that was started four years ago by the Fundy Biosphere in New Brunswick. It has since been done at three biosphere reserves in Ontario. Amazing Places coordinator Michelle Harnett says launching the initiative on Vancouver Island makes it a truly national celebration of biospheres in Canada.

“The places that are nominated within the MABR are expected to be as diverse as the people who enjoy the biosphere,either as residents or visitors,” says Harnett. “Ten places will be chosen from the nominations we receive and each site will receive interpretive signage providing information about the special ecological value behind the amazing place. We know that all ages of people enjoy the biosphere for different reasons which is why we are excited.”

MABR coordinator Monica Shore is working with Harnett on Amazing Places. Through the nomination process she says they will be able to highlight the vast ecological differences that exist within the biosphere and inspire people to explore new places.

“While we’re focusing on ecological significance, the project will also give people a chance to learn about the culture and traditions attached to the Amazing Places that are selected. We’ll be talking about traditional territories and using Hul’qumi’num words for places and species when possible,” says Shore.

She says an amazing place can be a breathtaking natural vista, a trail that invites you to experience the beauty of the region, or simply a special place in nature that you’d like to share with others.

“I was thrilled to be able to help bring this national project to BC and that VIU could help support it. MABR works very hard to raise awareness about the biosphere and through this project we can do that in a very effective way,” says Shore. To learn more and to nominate a place within the MABR, please go to mabr.ca/amazingplaces.

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