Lessons from the Cascade Head Biosphere Reserve, Oregon, USA
Byers, Bruce A.
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Cascade Head Biosphere Reserve is Oregon’s only biosphere reserve. It was one of the first group of U.S. biosphere reserves established in 1976 and is one of only two administered by the U.S. Forest Service among the 28 biosphere reserves that remain in the U.S. MAB network. With its complex social and ecological landscape, Cascade Head is a perfect place to test the biosphere concept. It is a microcosm, and its lessons learned about how to create a resilient relationship between humans and nature apply anywhere. Five themes describe the evolving relationship between people and nature at Cascade Head: resistance, research, restoration, reconciliation, and resilience. Unique aspects of the history of UNESCO biosphere reserves in the United States are not widely recognized in the literature, but can help explain their current relationship to the rest of the world network. Cascade Head provides lessons about the periodic review process required by the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program, the problems with rigid models of zonation in biosphere reserves, and the complexity of stakeholders and governance. Three overarching lessons from Cascade Head stand out. One is the critical role of individuals and the importance of inspired, value-based, individual action. A second is that despite decades of research, ecological mysteries still abound, and the need for research to underpin decisions will never end. Finally, the Cascade Head story shows the importance of worldviews – how we think about the human-nature relationship – in shaping individual and collective actions.