- Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems which promote the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.
- They are internationally recognized within the framework of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme and nominated by national governments.
- The Ministry of Environment and Forest provides financial assistance to the respective State governments for conservation of landscape and biological diversity and cultural heritage.
- Biosphere reserves serve in some ways as ‘living laboratories’ for testing out and demonstrating integrated management of land, water and biodiversity.
- There is a World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) under the MAB Programme. Within this network, exchanges of information, experience and personnel are facilitated.
- There are over 500 biosphere reserves in over 100 countries.
Man & Biosphere Programme
UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme was launched in 1971 with the aim of promoting interdisciplinary research, training, and communications in the field of ecosystem conservation and the rational use of natural resources. The MAB Programme is suited to respond to the results of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and especially the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Differentiating National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries & Biosphere Reserves
- National Parks and Wild Life sanctuaries come under the category called “Protected Areas”. The Protected Areas are declared under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 provides for 4 types of protected areas viz. Wild Life Sanctuaries, National Parks, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves.
- The boundaries of the all 4 kinds of Protected Areas are notified by legislation.
- The difference between a national park and a sanctuary is that no human activity is allowed inside a national park, while limited activities are permitted within the sanctuary.
- In Biosphere Reserve, limited economic activity (sand and stone mining) is permitted.
Selection of Biosphere Reserves
A site that must contain an effectively protected and minimally disturbed core area of value of nature conservation and should include additional land and water suitable for research and demonstration of sustainable methods of research and management.
The core area should be typical of a biogeographical unit and large enough to sustain viable populations representing all trophic levels in the ecosystem.
- Areas having rare and endangered species
- Areas having diversity of soil and micro-climatic conditions and indigenous varieties of biota.
- Areas potential for preservation of traditional tribal or rural modes of living for harmonious use of environment.
Madrid Action Plan
Madrid Action Plan was agreed at the 3rd World Congress of Biosphere Reserves which was held in Madrid in February 2008. It builds on the Seville Strategy and aims to capitalize on the strategic advantages of the Seville instruments and raise biosphere reserves to be the principal internationally-designated areas dedicated to sustainable development in the 21st century.
- The aim is to streamline the MAB (Men & Biosphere) and WNBR (World Network of Biosphere Reserves) activities during 2008–2013, the designated period of the plan.