North Devon Biosphere given funding injection
01 April 2021
Work being undertaken by the North Devon Biosphere Foundation has been given a funding injection from North Devon and Torridge Councils.
At a meeting of North Devon Council's Strategy and Resources Committee last month, councillors agreed to use £20,000 to support the further development of the Biosphere's projects. This decision was made in support of the council's corporate priorities to cherish and protect the environment and plan for North Devon's future.
Torridge District Council has also voted through funding of £18,000 in line with a key theme in their Strategic Plan; 'Our Environment Our Future', which aims to reduce the eco-footprint of the district to meet the council's carbon-neutral target of 2030.
North Devon Biosphere was the UK’s first UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Biosphere Reserves are 'living laboratories' for testing and demonstrating sustainable development on a sub-regional scale. They have three primary functions, which are conservation, sustainable development and knowledge generation and sharing. North Devon's Biosphere Reserve is jointly funded by Devon County Council, North Devon Council, Torridge District Council.
Part of the overall funding will go towards the Biosphere's Natural Capital Impact Fund which gives businesses the opportunity to invest in the Biosphere's projects in return for carbon credits to help them cut their carbon footprint.
Funding will also go towards the Digital Biosphere programme, which aims to use technology and real time data to help communities and businesses to make smart choices about their operations and reduce costs as well as negative environmental impacts. One aspect of the Digital Biosphere programme is the Smart Biosphere; a test project being run in the Combe Martin area that will help the tourism industry, farmers, the Environment Agency and South West Water to reduce pollution and flooding problems so that the beaches can meet bathing water standards and the impacts of floods can be reduced.
Another element of the Digital Biosphere programme is the Digital Accelerator, a process to prepare the bids for external funding that will enable businesses to best use digital technology and skills to make their businesses more resilient and environmentally efficient.
Chief Executive of North Devon Council, Ken Miles says: "As a council, we are committed to making decisions and investments that protect our natural environment and the decision to contribute towards the important work carried out by the North Devon Biosphere is one such investment. The Biosphere is carrying out a number of important projects that will ultimately benefit northern Devon and its residents and visitors for generations to come and we are thrilled to be able to help fund that work."
Sean Kearney – Head of Communities and Place at Torridge District Council says: “Torridge Members made it clear in awarding funding that they consider the investment into the Smart Biosphere to be a vital step forward for both the environment and our economy. It will hopefully allow us in turn to leverage additional funds for the project, which has enormous potential to create strong place branding, and a vibrant digital economy. While safeguarding the environment is fundamental to our goals the project will also help towards creating higher paid, higher skilled jobs and opportunities to start to address historical deprivation and social mobility issues as well.”
UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve Co-ordinator, Andy Bell says: "The UNESCO designation that North Devon enjoys has been at the leading edge on the application of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. To really improve the environment within a generation needs both private and public investment. The councils' contribution to building the system that enables us to build the cases to attract the investment and the system to make it work transparently is vital to reaching that goal. Since most of the economy of North Devon is based on having a great environment, this is a wise investment from the councils.”
More information on the work of the North Devon Biosphere can be found on their website: www.northdevonbiosphere.org.uk.