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A chance to expand the world’s biosphere footprint

  • Published
    3rd Nov, 2022

What is a Biosphere Reserve?

  • The Biosphere Reserve is a large protected area for the conservation of wildlife, plant and animal resources, and traditional tribal life in the area.

At present India has 18 biosphere Reserves. Panna National Park is India’s latest declared Biosphere Reserve.

  • A biosphere reserve contributes to the preservation of a region’s biodiversity and culture. 
  • 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). 
  • Their status is internationally recognized. Member States can submit sites through the designation process.
    • 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.

World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR). The World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) was formed in 1971. As a backbone for biodiversity conservation, ecosystem restoration, and living in harmony with nature. There are now 738 properties in 134 countries, including 12 in India, four in Sri Lanka, and three in the Maldives. Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal do not have biospheres as yet.

The ‘Expansion’ Plan

  • The ‘South and Central Asia MAB Reserve’ Networking Meeting (where MAB stands for Man and the Biosphere) is planned for 2023, to advance biosphere reserve establishment and management.
  • UNESCO is ready to assist in carrying out a professional potentiality analysis.
  • In addition, an expert mission has been planned for spring 2023 — to Bhutan, India’s northeast, and the Sundarbans in Bangladesh.

Biosphere Reserve in South Asia

  • In South Asia, over 30 biosphere reserves have been established.
  • The first one was the Hurulu Biosphere Reserve, in Sri Lanka, with 25,500 hectares of tropical dry evergreen forest.
  • In India, the first biosphere reserve was designated by UNESCO in 2000, namely, the blue mountains of the Nilgiris stretching over Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.
  • India’s network of reserves has gone from strength to strength.

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