Mindmap of the North Devon Biosphere Reserve Action Plan

This is an example of a place with a plan. It is the first draft of a mindmap to initiate planning for the North Devon Biosphere Reserve. Biosphere reserves a are places with world-class environments that are designated by the United Nations to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature. They are places where conservation and sustainable development go hand in hand.

Social features of a locality are special expressions of its character, which individuals, groups or organisations would like to maintain in a favourable condition. The features that seem special to a community in North Devon are set out in the above mindmap. This was used as the basis for a community action plan.

Features can be:-
* objects;
* services;
* amenities;
* appearances;
* relationships.

Each feature thereby becomes a target for social action.The action has to be planned so that resources are used effectively and there is long-term continuity.The objective of the plan is defined as the state of the feature when it is in a favourable condition.The condition of the feature is monitored using one or more of its measureable attributes so that at any time, progress of the plan towards the objective (the plan's outcome) can be recorded.

Local features suitable for community action plans fall into the following categories.

  • governance
  • education/training/learning
  • safety/order
  • economy/employment
  • health/well-being
  • housing/planning/transport
  • environment/heritage
  • welfare/care
  • social inclusion
  • social cohesion
  • leisure/arts/amenities
  • international relations

A well organised community requires planned inputs from the representatives of community life and public authorities listed below, with an active interface between these two sectors..

  • individuals
  • households/families
  • people as community members
  • local authorities
  • other public authorities
  • government at all levels
  • the private sector
  • the voluntary sector

Special environmental areas of sustainability which involve community action are at the heart of UNESCO's Biosphere Reserves. Indeed, the prime function of a BR is as a learning and demonstration site to promote local capacity building for global citizenship and sustainability.The UNESCO package is set within the framework of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD).

In this respect the BRs have:

·a nature conservation function - to contribute to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation;
·a development function - to foster economic and human development which is socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable;
·a logistic function - to provide support for research, monitoring, education and information exchange related to local, national and global issues of conservation and development.

The aim is to encourage citizens of all ages to get involved with the integrated management of all these functions.

A limitation of BRs is that they have to be validated by UNESCO and the designation is approved on the basis of the importance of their nature conservation function. That is to say, the locality must have a nature site that meets the top standard of a National Nature Reserve. However, the above principles for citizen involvement designed for BRs can be applied to any area that its population defines as being 'a place with a plan'. It is advantageous to begin citizen planning with biodiversity, because nature conservation generally brings in most sectors of a community. However, different localities will display different biodiversity profiles but all will have the same basic features listed above so the place with a plan scheme can be operated anywhere with the following four on-line elements.

·Interdisciplinary information about world development with tools for building personal bodies of knowledge linking culture and ecology;

·Citizenship toolkits for making and operating long-term plans for sustainability that deal with neighbourhood issues and family life;

·Open forums associated with a dedicated web viewer for networking ideas and achievements;

·A central webmaster to hold the network together on a day-to-day basis.

The software for recording an operating the plan has to be of an international standard and available free or at low cost, with good inbuilt Help.

The product of place with a plan is a greater capacity amonst local inhabitants to work tegether on constructive solutions to new problems of living in a shrinking world.