Conservation, Sustainable Development, Capacity Building

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Dark Skies in a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve

Logo with starry sky in background

Through the Biosphere Association's Dark Sky project, we can see Biosphere principles at work.

The Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve is:

  1. Part of a UN network
  2. one of 669 biosphere reserves in 120 countries
  3. one of 18 biosphere reserves in Canada

The Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association carries out its functions according to the Biosphere principles of:

  1. Conservation
  2. Sustainable Economic Development
  3. Capacity building

Preserving dark skies is an emerging conservation priority and on the Bruce Peninsula it provides a basis for sustainable economic development.
The Bruce Peninsula has some of darkest skies in southern Ontario not far from major urban areas.

Achieving Concrete Results
"Dark Sky" is a well established element of the Peninsula's identity.

  • Through the efforts of the Bruce Peninsula Environment Group (BPEG), the Municipality declared itself a 'Dark Sky Community‘ in August 2004 and both our National Parks were awarded the 'Dark Sky Preserve' designation in March 2009.
  • In 2010 the Biosphere Association formed the community-based Dark Sky Committee to conserve our dark sky by promoting the adoption of dark sky friendly lighting practices 
  • The Association organized funding and built the Peninsula Observation Deck (POD) in 2011, enhancing Lion’s Head harbour and creating an attractive venue for the public to enjoy the starry skies at night and a view of the dolostone cliffs and Georgian Bay by day.
  • The following year, after raising funds for the purchase of two telescopes, the Association
    • created a student job funded by an HRSDC grant and corporate sponsorship
    • attracted 1,800 people to Bayside Astronomy’s first season, and 2,000 each year since
    • became recognized as a tourist destination as evidenced by being featured as a stop in the "2013 Spruce the Bruce Passport".
  • The Association developed a new Dark Sky event: offering star gazing on the Chi-Cheemaun ferry to Manitoulin Island.
  • A dark sky culture was created among community residents as proved by an independent third party survey that shows 90% of residents support preserving dark skies.
  • The Association received written commendation in a Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) pamphlet for Dark Sky leadership. Our work prompted NEC to promote adoption of Dark Sky lighting throughout the Escarpment area

Sources of Knowledge Forum
On April 29 – 30, 2011 the National Parks' Sources of Knowledge Committee hosted the third annual Sources of Knowledge Forum. The theme of this forum was “Dark Skies – Bright Minds” and it  featured a diverse panel of experts.

Night Sky Quality Evaluation Program
As part of this program the BPBA-Dark Sky Committee members and helpers have begun an evaluation of the high quality darkness of sky. See  Report_1_SQM_Readings_MNBP_Nov24_2010.pdf  We are seeking funding to repeat the sky quality evaluation again this year. If you can help, please call (519) 377-5166 or go to the "Support" tab on the main page and click on "Donate". Thank you for any help you can give!

Dark Sky lighting fixtures
For information on Dark Sky lighting fixtures that can be found at local suppliers please see the lighting catalogue at lightingcatalogue.pdf (10 Mb)  The printing of the catalogue was generously supported by Scotia Private Client Group . Please note that stock and prices of the fixtures were accurate at time of initial publishing, but they change rapidly. The catalogue should therefore be considered a general guide rather than an authoritative reference.