#MyBiosphere April 2020

The Isle of Man is the only entire nation to boast UNESCO Biosphere status, reflecting it is a special place for people and nature. In our regular feature, authors from different walks of Manx life offer a personal perspective on #MyBiosphere. This month, Graham Makepeace-Warne writes:

A cold, windswept ditch on the side of a mountain is an unusual place for an epiphany. 

My fiancée and I were visiting from Manchester and marshalling a particularly bleak advance flag point on the mountain for the 2016 Manx Grand Prix when, between races, a hen harrier swept over the mountain ridge and nonchalantly quartered the moorland next to us, while two kestrels overhead taught their fledgling to fly and hunt. 

For a couple living in the city but with a love for wildlife (and motorcycles), that was the moment when we simultaneously realised that we had to move to the Isle of Man.

The Isle of Man’s status as the only entire nation UNESCO Biosphere Reserve was a huge draw for us. Furthermore, a job opportunity with Manx Wildlife Trust was the perfect chance to work on behalf of wildlife on the island I had fallen in love with. 

Working part-time in the third sector meant a big drop in salary but I was determined to make it work. Two years in and I am still relishing it, plus my Siberian huskies are loving the countryside walks in my spare time.

I can see that the Isle of Man is uniquely placed to build on its status as a UNESCO Biosphere. The status fits hand-in-glove with our goals to become net carbon zero and eliminate plastic waste. Wildlife is at the heart of these aims, as it not only stands to benefit, but is crucial to achieving them. Native broadleaf woodland with good biodiversity provides a much greater carbon store than sitka spruce plantation that will ultimately release its carbon upon harvesting. Therefore, it is imperative we ensure such woodlands remain unharmed in perpetuity. 

Our marine nature reserves are already showing promise with the recent discovery of self-seeding seagrasses, which sequester carbon while acting as a physical barrier to plastics entering the marine environment. 

As individuals, each of us can support the island’s Biosphere status with our actions and lifestyle choices, to create an Isle of Man rich in wildlife that we can enjoy, benefit from, and show as an example to the rest of the world.

Isle of Man businesses are also well positioned to help the Island build on its Biosphere status. In fact, I believe that it is the companies that are fortunate to be based here that can make the biggest difference. In my role at Manx Wildlife Trust, I am always looking to talk to companies about corporate membership and sponsorship opportunities with us. 

These are much more than just altruistic opportunities to spend a little excess marketing budget on helping the environment. We work to create value for the businesses that we work with including educational talks, consultancy services and some great PR.

It should be clear by now that we all have an obligation, in both how we live and work, to do so in a way that supports our Biosphere. After all, it is what we live in.

Graham Makepeace-Warne is Membership and Marketing Manager at Manx Wildlife Trust and a freelance videographer with Great Media Works.

To find out more about UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man, or to apply to be a partner, visit www.biosphere.im, email biosphere@gov.im or ring 01624 686080.

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