Biosphere Reserve group erecting signs around the Bras d’Or Lake

This is one of many signs going up around the Bras d’Or Lake for the upcoming tourist season.

SYDNEY: Attractive, sky-blue signs will greet motorists and boaters visiting the Bras d’Or Lake watershed this summer, welcoming them to the UNESCO-designated Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve.

Located along roadsides and waterways, the 12 signs reflect a multiyear effort by volunteer members of the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve Association, significant financial contributions from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the island’s four municipal governments, as well as technical assistance from the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

Ten roadside signs are located on Highway 104 at River Bourgeois; Highway 4 at St. Peter’s; Potlotek, First Nation; Big Pond; Portage; Highway 105 at Kingsville and Glen Tosh; Highway 252 at Skye Glen; Highway 285 at East Lake Ainslie; and the Cabot Trail at Middle River.

Two waterway signs are located alongside the St. Peter’s Canal and the Great Bras d’Or Channel at Big Bras d’Or.

Meanwhile, smaller biosphere reserve signs have gone up at more than 20 kayak and canoe launch portals around the lake, designated as access points for the Great Trail (formerly the Trans Canada Trail).

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has designated 701 locations around the planet as special places where people seek to live in harmony with their environment. They are places where others may learn how to live more sustainably. The Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve, which encompasses the entire watershed of the lake, earned its designation in 2011.

“Good signage can provide significant leverage for the biosphere reserve by making this internationally designated asset highly visible, tangible, and accessible to the local and travelling public, and to get the maximum return on this asset — to the benefit of the local economy — now and well into the future,” said signage committee chair Gordon Kerr.

The 3,500 square kilometers of forest and aquatic ecosystems in the center of Cape Breton Island have been recognized for their natural assets and human cultures. UNESCO certified it as a model showcasing sustainable living. This world-level acknowledgement means that residents live in harmony with nature, conscious of the stewardship required to sustain and enhance this heritage.

The all-volunteer Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve Association (Web site: blbra.ca) advances the values and aspirations of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program through a range of projects including walking trails and citizen science. Membership is open, and the board of directors reflects the geographic scope of the watershed, including First Nations.