Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region

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Designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2000 as part of the Man and the Biosphere Programme, the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (MABR) works to promote the conservation of biological and cultural diversity in addition to economic and social development. 


The Biosphere Region makes up approximately 1200 square kilometers – from Nanoose Bay to Qualicum Bay, and from the top of Mount Arrowsmith (1817m) to 300 meters at the bottom of the Salish Sea. It is the extensive vertical elevation that makes this Biosphere Region unique among Canadian Biospheres – it encompasses many unique ecosystems ranging from high alpine and coastal forests to intertidal and marine habitats. The biosphere region is home to over 58,000 people and lies within the traditional territories of seven First Nations: Qualicum, Snaw-naw-as, K’ómox, Snuneymuxw, Tseshaht, Hupacasath, and Ditidaht. 


The Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region is managed by a Roundtable made up of regional representatives from local First Nations, local and senior levels of government, Vancouver Island University (VIU), conservation organizations, forestry industry, local businesses, and community representatives. 


To gain a better understanding of the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region, please view the recent Knowledge Network feature:

Striking Balance Documentary

And to view a few of the amazing places in our Biosphere Region please visit:

MABR Amazing Places Project



The Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute (MABRRI):

Established in 2014 at Vancouver Island University, the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute is the engine behind the Biosphere Region’s research and educational programs. The Regional Research Institute works to uphold VIU's Research and Academic plan by creating projects and initiatives that have a regional impact. Its mission is to advance a program of inquiry that involves regional stakeholders in meaningful explorations of issues of local relevance. By harnessing the knowledge of the biosphere regional community and the interdisciplinary strengths of students and faculty at Vancouver Island University, MABRRI is a centre for collaborative research, innovation, and knowledge sharing that elevates the relationship between people and nature on Vancouver Island and within the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region.

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MABRRI Research Projects

MABRRI's research and community engagement coordinators, project coordinators, VIU students, and faculty associates work with community partners to create and conduct research projects that advance our understanding of people and nature--and the interaction between these--within the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region. Listed below are links to some of the projects that MABRRI is currently working on within the biosphere region. For other projects we are working on across Vancouver Island, check out the Other VIU Research Projects page.

MABRRI Research Projects


Please register to receive our newsletter:

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Volunteer Opportunities

The Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Regional Research Institute welcomes individual and community involvement. If your interest lies in the area of native plant species, there are 3 sites at Milner Gardens & Woodland where phenophase data is collected on 11 different native plant species. Some examples of phenophases recorded are bud break, leaf size, canopy coverage, flower development, and ripe or unripe fruit. Data collection occurs weekly during the growing season and monthly in the fall and spring when phenophase development progresses at a slower rate. This project depends on our citizen scientists to help with data collection at Milner Gardens & Woodland throughout the growing season.MABRRI is currently working with groups of citizen scientists from Cowichan Bay to Qualicum Beach, including groups on Gabriola Island and Thetis Island, to identify when and where Pacific sand lance and surf smelt (forage fish) are spawning. These groups collect sediment and process sediment samples from local beaches, which are ultimately looked at under a microscope to identify if there are any embryos present.

By working with our citizen scientists we are able to expand the project geographically, covering a much greater extent of the coastline in a shorter period of time. Ultimately we are aiming to collect a long-term dataset for our stretch of the Vancouver Island coastline, as well as for the local islands. All of the data is submitted to the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Strait of Georgia Data Centre; therefore, it is openly available to anyone that is interested in looking at it. You or your stewardship group are invited to contribute to this continuously growing project, 

Follow this link to see you can join in at Milner Gardens or along our coastline:

Get Involved -

Debbie Flynn Photography

Spring Is Here In All Its Glory


Vivid shades of green and a rainbow of blossom colours. Happy birds

singing. Bright sunshine. Renewing rains. Baby animals. 

We want to photograph it all. Then . . . when it comes time to edit you

your photos could use some help in bringing out the wonders you saw.  

Today, I'm giving you a few cropping tips to quickly shift your photos

from okay to amazing. 

Plus, I'm letting you know I'm offering a short, 4 week, live Zoom class to

help you accelerate your editing skills. There are 3 simultaneous sessions

running weekdays during May through to June. It's called Photo Editing

With a Pro and open to all photographers with phone cameras or a DSLR.        To learn more see below. 

Photo Cropping Tips
1. Start With a Good Base Photo
Delete the photos that are not up to par until you have the best photo of the scene you captured from a place of intention and mindfulness. See example below of the best photo.  

2. Crop
Crop out distracting items around the focal point of the photo or use the focal point to zoom in on. It can completely change the composition of the photo.  

                                                                                            Before (left) - after deleting other photos it's between this photo

                                                                                            and the one below. 






                                       After (right) - This is my favourite. 

Can you see why I choose this one of the lily pads and

flower? Loved the vividness of the green contrasting with

the blue of the water, lushness of the leaves and grass

framing the water lily which is the most important element.

Notice the vertical framing format and how it was cropped

in my camera. 

3. Keep your subject off-centre.
Don't centre your subject. Use the rule of the Rule of Thirds, which as most of you have been my students, know. It makes for a more harmonious and engaging photo. The lily flower is below the centre of the frame and you're drawn in by the lush leaves above and grass framing the lily flower. 


4. Crop at eye level. Even flowers. It creates interest and a dynamic. 

With the photo of the momma and baby

squirrel I had noticed their home in the

white guard protecting the power pole 

the day before, when momma dis-

appeared down the guard. There were

more sounds than one squirrel and

knew it was her nest. So, the next day

I saw her going head first down to her

baby. Then, she popped up and next

came baby. I was ready to take a                                                                                         Cute little guy huh?

number of quick photos. I photographed quickly and briefly as they were close and nervous.Before. There is too much of the white guard and you are not drawn to the subjects right away. 

After cropping you can see how mom and baby come right into focus without the white element and their personalities came through. There is more editing done with the exposure and contrast. Momma is older and had a gray hair under her chin which I removed.

With your new editing tools you will be able to quickly shift your photos into amazing. 


In the following before and after photos what do you think I did?











Quite a difference isn't there?

And I did crop it a bit. 



Photo Editing With a Pro

To register please email me at   Would love to help you!!


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