Forest Biosphere Reserve

What are Biosphere Reserves?  


Biosphere Reserves are an internal designation allocated by UNESCO. These sites promote solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They are learning areas for sustainable development under diverse ecological, social and economic contexts, touching the lives of more than 250 million people. 

There are currently 714 biosphere reserves in 129 countries across the globe, with 6 within the UK.  

Read more about Biosphere Reserves.

The Project


In 2019, The Forest of Dean District Council became the first rural council within the UK to declare a climate change emergency followed by a biodiversity emergency in 2020. With  a goal for the District to be netzero by 2030. 

The initial project seeks to educate and increase public awareness on a Biosphere Reserve and the local benefits. 

This project builds upon the work undertaken in 2019 for FEP by the Office for National Statistics which established that under the most prudent approach a Biosphere Reserve option for the district yields a Benefit-Cost Ratio of 3.89:1.

Read the full report. 

Depending on the public perception of the Biosphere Reserve, FEP will work with stakeholders to submit an application to UNESCO to become designated as Biosphere Reserve. 


Forest of Dean

To enter the nomination process for a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve evidence is required of community engagement, stakeholder support and basic viability. The anticipated outputs of this project include:

  1. Engaging c76 key stakeholder organisations, and gaining evidence of their feedback and support through 4/5 facilitated sessions for a total of 80+ people in Spring 2020.
  2. Raising the profile of the Biosphere Reserve concept and its potential application to the Forest of Dean district within the general community through web-based and face to face events. Provision of on-line and hard copy questionnaires to quantify views and support levels, Summer 2020
  3. Develop the high-level vision and strategic goals for a Forest of Dean Biosphere reserve, elicited directly from stakeholder engagement and confirmed in a facilitated event in Summer 2020
  4. Scoping the next steps -including challenges and opportunities- and mapping a route towards a nomination. This takes on board best practice from existing BR to learn from their experience Late summer 2020
  5. Business planning and preliminary modelling and scenarios of how a Biosphere Reserve could be financed to deliver on identified goals if the District is in favour.

Project Update


In January 2020, the Biosphere Reserve Action Group submitted a bid the the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding for the community and stakeholder engagement works to be carried out. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the Heritage Lottery Funding was withdrawn to be redirected to support ongoing projects. 

Following this news, the Biosphere Reserve Action Group amended their proposal to the stakeholders on their approach this engagement, which sought approval for a bid to submitted to Arts Council England for just under £12,400. The bid will commission 1 lens-based and 1 audio-based artist to engage the Forest of Dean (FoD) community in a creative interpretation of landscape & place through film, photography & digital media.

In May 2021, FEP were award funding from Arts Council England to create a community engagement campaign

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Opportunity - Elemental Forest 


Forest Economic Partnership wishes to commission 2 artists to engage the Forest of Dean (FoD) community in a creative interpretation of landscape & place through an artist’s film and an audio work. 

  • The term ‘film’ is used to describe a moving image work of any style – documentary, experimental; animation; performance – as long as it meets the needs of the project.
  • The term ‘audio’ could be a podcast; a song; a story; interviews; performance - as long as it meets the needs of the project. 

The project will focus public attention on the potential of a Biosphere Reserve (BR) designation for FoD. BRs are areas comprising terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems, with a key aim of seeking to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They are sites of excellence for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems.

To apply please see the full brief.