Pam Shaw

Pam Shaw

VIU launches academic journal

NANAIMO – Research on world's biospheres distributed in publication beginning in January.

Vancouver Island University created a new academic journal for biosphere research after a class project found no such publication existed in the world.

“There are 669 designated biosphere reserves located in 120 nations across the globe,” said Pam Shaw, director of VIU’s master of community planning program and research director for Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute. “The fact that there was nothing out there was stunning to us. That’s when we realized that VIU could take a lead role in creating a journal that fills that gap.”

After developing a framework for the journal, Shaw reviewed the proposal with David Witty, VIU provost and vice-president academic, who agreed to support the project.

In March 2016, Witty and Shaw presented at the four-day UNESCO Fourth World Congress of Biosphere Reserves in Peru.

During final statements by congress, VIU was recognized for its commitment to creating an online journal and broad support for the project was offered.

VIU graduate student Taylor Alexander created the online platform. The website and guidelines were developed and it was officially named the International UNESCO Journal of Biosphere Reserves. In October a call for submissions was sent out.

Submissions have come from places as diverse as Scotland, Vietnam, the U.S. and Australia. The first edition of the journal is scheduled to be released in January and will include peer-reviewed research papers as well as research notes from non-profits and citizen groups working on biosphere issues.

So far they have received 12 submissions including a 90-minute video produced and directed by former VIU student Doug Wortley that takes a detailed look at the various ecosystems within Mt. Arrowsmith. Another is a research paper that looks at the impacts of climate change on rare bird species that reside within a biosphere reserve in Australia.

Shaw says by creating an online journal they are now part of an open access universe that doesn’t charge for access to knowledge.

“We’ve already received a great deal of support from the international biosphere community and this will also have an enormous impact on VIU students and our community,” said Shaw.

To view or submit to the journal, please visit