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International Day for Biosphere Reserves


The second anniversary of International Biosphere Reserve Day, celebrated on November 3, annually highlights the critical importance of biosphere reserves(BR) in safeguarding our environment and promoting sustainability.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. World Biosphere Reserve Day 2023
  2. What are Biosphere Reserves?
  3. Status of Biosphere Reserves in India
  4. International Status of Biosphere Reserve

World Biosphere Reserve Day 2023

  • World Biosphere Reserve Day is a day dedicated to celebrating the significant role of biosphere reserves in conserving biodiversity and advancing sustainable development.
  • It was established by UNESCO in 2022, with the intention of observing it annually on November 3.


  • The primary goals of World Biosphere Reserve Day are to raise awareness about the importance of biosphere reserves, share best practices in conservation and sustainability, and highlight the achievements of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR).


  • This day serves as a platform to recognize and promote the valuable work of biosphere reserves around the world, fostering a deeper understanding of their contributions to environmental protection and sustainable living.
UNESCO Collaborates for Environmental Sustainability in South and Central Asia

In collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change and the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, UNESCO concluded the 10th South and Central Asian Biosphere Reserve Network Meeting (SACAM) in Chennai, India.

Theme – “Ridge to Reef”:

  • The SACAM event was themed “Ridge to Reef,” emphasizing the importance of holistic and integrated environmental practices in the regions of South and Central Asia.

Facilitating Collaboration:

  • The event provided a platform for fostering collaboration among nations in South and Central Asia, with a focus on promoting sustainable environmental practices.
  • The collaboration aimed to address challenges related to environmental conservation, biodiversity protection, and the sustainable management of natural resources in these regions.

What are Biosphere Reserves?

  • Biosphere reserves are ‘learning places for sustainable development’.
  • They are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and inters between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity.
  • They are places that provide local solutions to global challenges.
  • Biosphere reserves include terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each site promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.
  • Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments and remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located.
  • Biosphere Reserves are designated under the intergovernmental MAB Programme by the Director-General of UNESCO following the decisions of the MAB International Coordinating Council (MAB ICC). 
  • Biosphere Reserves involve local communities and all interested stakeholders in planning and management.
Main functions of Biosphere reserves:
  • Conservation of biodiversity and cultural diversity
  • Economic development that is socio-culturally and environmentally sustainable
  • Logistic support, underpinning development through research, monitoring, education and training
Three main zones
  • Core Areas
    • It comprises a strictly protected zone that contributes to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation
  • Buffer Zones
    • It surrounds or adjoins the core area(s), and is used for activities compatible with sound ecological practices that can reinforce scientific research, monitoring, training and education.
  • Transition Area
    • The transition area is where communities foster socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable economic and human activities.
Status of Biosphere Reserves in India
  • India now has 18 designated biosphere reserves totaling 60,000 square kilometres.
  • The blue mountains of the Nilgiris, which span Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala, were India’s first biosphere reserve.
  • Dibru-Saikhowa (Assam) is the smallest while the Gulf of Kachchh (in Gujarat) is the largest biosphere reserve .

18 biosphere reserves in India:

  1. Cold Desert, Himachal Pradesh
  2. Nanda Devi, Uttarakhand
  3. Khangchendzonga, Sikkim
  4. Dehang-Debang, Arunachal Pradesh
  5. Manas, Assam
  6. Dibru-Saikhowa, Assam
  7. Nokrek, Meghalaya
  8. Panna, Madhya Pradesh
  9. Pachmarhi, Madhya Pradesh
  10. Achanakmar-Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh
  11. Kachchh, Gujarat (Largest Area)
  12. Similipal, Odisha
  13. Sundarban, West Bengal
  14. Seshachalam, Andhra Pradesh
  15. Agasthyamala, Karnataka-Tamil Nadu-Kerala
  16. Nilgiri, Tamil Nadu-Kerala (First to be Included)
  17. Gulf of Mannar, Tamil Nadu
  18. Great Nicobar, Andaman & Nicobar Island

International Status of Biosphere Reserve

  • For natural areas, UNESCO has established the term “Biosphere Reserve” to reduce conflicts between development and preservation.
  • Under the Man and Biosphere Reserve Program of UNESCO, national governments that meet a minimal set of requirements can nominate biosphere reserves.
  • There are currently 738 biosphere reserves in 134 countries, including 22 transboundary sites.
  • There are 738 biosphere reserves in 134 countries, including 22 transboundary sites, according to UNESCO.
  • The highest number of such sites are in Spain, Russia and Mexico.

Man and Biosphere Programme

  • The MAB programme is an intergovernmental scientific programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for enhancing the relationship between people and their environments.
  • It combines the natural and social sciences with a view to improving human livelihoods and safeguarding natural and managed ecosystems, thus promoting innovative approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate and environmentally sustainable.
  • There are total 12 biosphere reserves of India which have been recognized internationally under Man and Biosphere Reserve program

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023