UNESCO Biosphere - Nature’s Playground
In March 2016 the Isle of Man became the first entire jurisdiction to gain international UNESCO Biosphere status.
This award shows how a thriving, diverse, modern economy and healthy ecosystem and community can co-exist and complement each other. The Biosphere status raises awareness among local people, visitors and government on environmental and development issues, which results in people's livelihoods being enhanced.
The Isle of Man joined the illustrious UNESCO Biosphere community with sites located across the world from Italy all the way to Japan. UK sites include North Devon, Brighton and Lewes Downs, Bro Dyfy in Wales and Galloway, South Ayrshire and Beinn Eighe in Scotland.
We appreciate our landscape and a Biosphere status applies across the whole of the Island from the land to the sea, covering; beaches, seas, plantations, forests and glens. We want the Isle of Man to stay as a special place to live, work and visit, where the community can come together to take care of its land and sea and to help educate local businesses and government on how they can make a positive impact on the Island.
With miles of coastline and acres of diverse countryside, the Isle of Man has earned its reputation as a hotspot for wildlife spotting. With many charity associations educating locals and visitors of the importance of preserving wildlife, it's no wonder our Island is renowned for its wildlife.
On the Isle of Man, you won't find quite the same wildlife as in the UK. There are no squirrels, badgers or foxes; however, you may find other creatures of interest.
If you venture up to the north of the Island you may be given a bit of a surprise as the Isle of Man is home to a 5 foot mammal that likes to jump around at high speeds and often keeps its babies in its pouch – the wallaby! There are now around 100 wild wallabies on the Island since a pair escaped from our Wildlife Park in the 1970s.
The Isle of Man has an excellent number of vantage points where you can watch a variety of birds in their natural habitats. Along the coastline you may spot kittiwake, guillemot and puffins nesting in the cliffs or in the coastal grasslands.
In the countryside you might be lucky to spot nesting colonies of terns and warblers. As the woodlands and glens turn autumnal, the Island will be visited by brent geese which travel from the Arctic and can usually be found around the Derbyhaven area. In the Ballaugh Curraghs wetland you should be able to see the largest winter roost of hen harriers in Western Europe.
The Isle of Man has an abundance of seals, particularly at The Sound in the south of the Island, where you can find dozens perched among the rocks.
Between May and August Manx waters are infiltrated by high numbers of basking sharks - sometimes many more than are recorded in the British Isles. An adult basking shark can weigh as much as two elephants and is the longer than the length of a bus – so you should be able to catch a glimpse!
Most basking shark sightings are reported within one kilometre of land, which means visitors to the Island stand an excellent chance of seeing these magnificent creatures up close and personal.
The Manx Basking Shark Watch organisation record sightings of the sharks and if you head over to their website www.manxbaskingsharkwatch.org you can see when and where the latest sightings have been.
Occasionally the Island is visited by harbour porpoise, which are the smallest cetacean to be found in Britain, or the rare Risso's dolphins which are attracted to the deep waters off the Manx coast but can be seen within easy sight off shore especially on the eastern and southern coast.
Seal at the Calf of Man
Plantations & Forests
There are over 50 plantations and forests spread out around the Isle of Man.
Plantations offer many interesting walks and dogs are welcome, although you need to be careful of events happening in the plantations, such as motorbike trials and mountain biking races.
Recreational events of all kinds occur within plantations throughout the year. South Barrule in the south of the Island is home to a range of mountain bike tracks as well as the highflying Ape Mann Adventure Park, Laser Mayhem and Segway tours.
Plantations often play host to other events such as car rallies, endures and cross country running as well as various cadet and Scout exercises.
There are 18 mountain and coastal National Glens spread across the Island which have been preserved and maintained in a semi-natural state by the Manx Government.
The glens are public areas where locals and visitors can enjoy the Island's heritage in a beautiful setting, as the glens are home to old corn mills, a restored water-driven Victorian roundabout, a boating lake and water wheels. Each glen has its own character with its own natural beauty and can be accessed by car with some situated near the Manx Electric Railway or Steam Railway stations.
The Isle of Man's shores are home to fantastic beaches, from sandy stretches to pebbly coves, you'll find the perfect spot for a picnic, walk or a swim.
In the south of the Island you'll find sandy beaches that are great for watersports with coasteering, diving, kayaking and sailing being very popular with people of all ages.
In the East you'll be welcomed with a 2 mile stretch of sandy beach which is perfect for walking the dog and ending up in one of the many seafront pubs for a well-deserved refreshment.
Again the North is great for walking with long sandy beaches – you may even get a glimpse of Ireland's mountains on a clear day. Be careful of the high tides; otherwise enjoy a peaceful walk on some of the Islands prettiest beaches.
The Western beaches are brilliant for a day out at the beach with lots of cafes, ice cream parlours and seafront pubs to choose from. Peel beach is great for swimming and watching the local seals that are catching the rays on a sunny day.
Flowers & Plants
The Manx Wildlife Trust is the Isle of Man's leading nature conservation charity which works hard to protect the Islands flora and fauna. The Trust manages two Visitor Centres which contains lots of information about the surrounding areas and plants. They also collect data on the local wildlife and organise talks, walks and events to educate locals and visitors of the importance of the Islands wildlife. The Trust manages eight nature reserves which are open to the general public.
There are also a number of secluded gardens to explore on the Island, such as the Milntown Estate and Gardens where you'll find 15 acres of impressively maintained gardens and a mill pond to feed the ducks.
Tynwald Arboretum in St Johns is also a good spot to find some interesting greenery as it has a range of ornamental and native trees. If you look up you may also find some hens resting in the trees next to the pond, looking down on the ducks below!
Nature feels more powerful here, both when the sun is shining and everything outside is bursting with life and when the gale winds are blowing trees of the ground. It feels somewhat magical. Felipe, Lead Systems Developer, Douglas