Fundy Biosphere Reserve Launches Local Climate Change Documentary

Posted June 18, 2013

The UNESCO Fundy Biosphere Reserve celebrated the launch of a documentary video, The Whitney Journals on the evening of June 17 as part of their Annual General Meeting. The video explores nature observations collected by the Sussex-based Whitney family for nearly 40 years and the analysis of these observations as chronicling the effects of climate change on the local environment.

“The Whitneys have taken pains over the last 40 years to record a variety of important nature observations on their farm,” says Megan de Graaf, Executive Director of the UNESCO Fundy Biosphere Reserve. “Lee and Alice Whitney have been friends of my family for years, and they were keen to see their impressive nature journals used for such a project.”

Two years ago, when the UNESCO Fundy Biosphere Reserve began this project, they realized that a lot of important nature-related information had been collected over the years by people in and around the Fundy Biosphere Reserve. With this video, the Fundy Biosphere Reserve highlights the fact that citizens can be scientists too, and experts on changes to their environment.

“Our analysis of the Whitneys’ journals tells us that our local climate does indeed seem to be changing,” explains Ben Phillips, Conservation Program Manager for the UNESCO Fundy Biosphere Reserve.

FBR AGM 170613 007From Left to Right: Craig Norris, Megan de Graaf, Lee Whitney, Alice Whitney,
Ben Phillips 
and Dr. Yves Gagnon.

According to the Whitneys’ records, since the early 1970s, the frost-free growing season is now 25 days longer, the breeding season for spring peepers has expanded an extra 29 days, robins are appearing a full one month earlier in the spring, and lilacs are showing a seven day advance in their growing season. The Fundy Biosphere Reserve hopes to continue building this project in the future with more such citizen-sourced materials.

“This project perfectly highlights our interest in sustainable development, conservation, and in building the capacity of our partners and communities,” says Dr. Yves Gagnon, Chair of the Board of Directors for the UNESCO Fundy Biosphere Reserve. “We wanted to share the impressive scientific resources that were these and other journals with everyone in the Fundy Biosphere Reserve.”  

The Climate Change Proxy Materials project was possible thanks to funding from the New Brunswick Environmental Trust Fund. The project began in 2011 to encourage people to become “citizen scientists” by regularly recording nature observations and sharing them with the UNESCO Fundy Biosphere Reserve for analysis, thereby providing communities with knowledge of the effects of climate change at a local level. Watch the video on YouTube: and follow the project progress on Facebook at Fundy Biosphere Reserve.

For more information on the Environmental Trust Fund, click here