Since November 3, 2011, is International Day for Biosphere Reserves, I thought it would be a good time to write about a Biosphere Reserve I visited recently in the Canadian province of Quebec. It is called the Charlevoix Biosphere, and this photograph shows its northern border, the St. Lawrence River.
The Charlevoix Biosphere is made up of agricultural areas, river ecosystems, estuarine tidal marshes/flats, coniferous and mixed forests, stunted vegetation, and mountain tundra ecosystems. Every year, six species of migrating whales, along with seals, rendezvous with visitors at the junction of the Saguenay and St. Lawrence Rivers.
One way the Charlevoix Biosphere is unique is that it is inhabited by approximately 30,000 people, whereas many biospheres do not have human beings living in them. This photo shows the lovely Fairmont Le Manoir Richelier (www.fairmont.com/richelier) , which served as my "campsite" during my visit to this beautiful part of Canada.
The hotel has the nickname "Castle on the Cliff" due to its scenic location on a high bluff above the St. Lawrence River. Its location near the water, means that the early morning often finds it cloaked in a misty fog, until the sun comes out to burn away the shroud.
The grounds of the hotel are immaculately maintained, and provide miles of enjoyment to visitors who want to stroll the property, and take in the views.
Seeing this elegant lodging property may make one curious as to what exactly IS a "Biosphere Reserve"??!! According to the website of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (www.unesco.org ), it is defined as a learning site established by countries, and recognized under UNESCO'S Man & Biosphere program, to promote sustainable development; this development is to be based on local community efforts and sound science. There are currently 580 sites in 114 countries, and you can click on their website to find out the location of other biospheres around the world.
The UNESCO designation does not mean that the United Nations comes in and "takes over" the management of a UNESCO-designated sight. Rather, the site is still completely controlled by the government of the country where it is located.
The key phrase in an inhabited biosphere such as Charlevoix, is "sustainable". The Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu actively participates in ecological measures of sustainability. It has a rich history and tradition that it wants to "sustain" for generations to come.
As I relished my time exploring the St. Lawrence River section of Charlevoix, I was able to take in some remarkable sunrises and sunsets over the river. It brought to mind the verse "From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised." Psalm 113:3 I was doing LOTS of praising when I was in this remarkable area of Quebec! If you would like to learn more about all there is to see and do in this year-round, vacation playground, visit www.tourisme-charlevoix.com and start preparing for miles of praise-filled smiles!!