About Biosphere Foundation

Mark Van Thillo and Abigail Alling with Director James Cameron at fundraising event.

Mark Van Thillo and Abigail Alling with Director James Cameron at fundraising event.

“These are the people who are the next Cousteau.  It may seem that their work is insignificant – one small boat, one small team in the middle of the ocean – but it is not. It is the most important thing anyone can do to make a difference.” — James Cameron Filmmaker, screenwriter, deep-sea explorer


Mir heading out to sea at Sri Lanka

What Makes Biosphere Foundation’s Vision Unique?

Our Health is Synonymous With the Health of the Biosphere.

Sept 26, 2012 marked 20 years since three of the Biosphere Foundation Directors (Abigail, Mark and Sally) entered the airlock door of the Biosphere 2 project and remained inside the dome structure for two years. Biosphere 2 profoundly changed our lives because we experienced daily that our actions were interconnected with the health of the biosphere. Because we lived within the confines of a world sealed from earth’s biosphere, we called ourselves “biospherians.” It was a word that referred to all eight of us living inside this 3.15-acre world and became synonymous with the idea that humans are an expression of the biosphere: if our biosphere is healthy then we are healthy. This fundamental idea is true of all people on earth (“Biosphere 1”) – we are all biospherians and interacting with the biosphere with each passing moment.

Everyone Can Make a Difference

BF believes that hands-on involvement is key to stewarding the biosphere. It is wondrous to realize that no action is “insignificant.” Everyone can make a difference and be part of the solution.

Ocean-Going Sailing Ship “Mir”

BF is unique in having a sailing ship to voyage the seas and work off remote Islands in Asia. Mir’s homeport is located at Raffles Marina, Singapore.

Community-Based Conservation

BF works hand-in-hand with indigenous peoples to help solve environmental challenges. We are “called to action” by the families living on shore who suffer from the decline in fisheries and not enough means to live in the modern world. Because each situation is different, we learn about their unique challenge and provide our expertise to empower the community to learn how to more effectively steward their land and sea.

Climate Change

Our purpose directly relates to climate change because it is the most significant threat impacting the health of our biosphere today. We focus on “crisis points:” areas where indigenous people experience the day-to-day impact of environmental devastation caused by excessive energy and resource exploitation. Our aim is to provide information, know-how and education to make a difference to these communities while initiating programs to restore the health of the environment. Healthy ecosystems can withstand change and adapt while those that are dead and dying will only accelerate harmful trends. It is through such community-based conservation programs that we have joined a growing planetary network to steward a healthy biosphere and ultimately stop the warming of our planet and other wasteful uses of resources before it is too late.

Our Mission

Biosphere Foundation’s primary goal is to inspire intelligent stewardship of our earth’s biosphere. Biosphere Foundation (BF) achieves this objective by (1) implementing conservation programs which are community-based and sustainable; (2) creating educational programs that inspire people to care for the biosphere and get involved to make a difference; and (3) providing an unbiased, “trusted source” of data about the biosphere to users around the world.

Biosphere Foundation’s Organizational Values

BF’s prime organizational value is sharing information. BF embodies the idea that information about our biosphere belongs to everyone on the planet. Providing a trusted source of free data online is central to promoting information sharing amongst governments, scientific institutions, organizations, communities and individuals.

As an example, please see our online data and reports for 49 coral reefs studied around the world and our extreme finding of remote reefs in the Phoenix Islands that died due to global warming.

BF’s collaborative approach provides new inspiration for the conservation movement: volunteers and stakeholders understand that they can make a difference and identify the contribution they make in stewarding the biosphere. Naturally, professionals find and use BF’s data and information, but our scope reaches beyond academia and into remote areas where local people are so moved by our work that they join us in the field.

As an example, please view the ‘Canary is Dead’ at Studio of the Sea, which inspired former Vice President Al Gore use the information in An Inconvenient Truth to highlight that coral reefs are an early warning sign of change.

BF turns inspiration into action by demonstrating hands-on ways to protect resources and restore ecosystems. The organization reflects its values by providing online ways to make a difference; ensuring its place as a trusted source of data for scientists and conservationists; creating educational programs that are accessible to the students who will become tomorrow’s activists; and through a culturally rich, hands-on collaboration with island peoples.

As an example, please view our coral reef conservation in NW Bali at Menjangan Island. 

At the heart of Biosphere Foundation is the value that everyone can play a part in the solution.  Hence our motto: “Care for the biosphere, it’s ours to love.”


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world.
Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

– Margaret Mead