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International Day for Biosphere Reserves


From 2022 onwards, 3rd November will be celebrated as ‘The International Day for Biosphere Reserves’.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are Biosphere Reserves?
  2. Status of Biosphere Reserves in India
  3. International Status of Biosphere Reserve

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