In the light of November 3rd 2022 being observed as the first International Day for Biosphere Reserves, discuss the importance of biosphere reserves in conservation efforts. How can the world’s biosphere footprint be expanded?

A biosphere reserve is an international designation by UNESCO for representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes extending over a large area of terraced real or coastal/marine ecosystems or a combination thereof.

Biosphere reserves:

  • The biosphere reserve network was launched in 1971 by UNESCO.
  • World network of biosphere reserves covers internationally designated protected areas known as biosphere reserves, to encourage sustainable development under the Man and Biosphere program.
  • At present India has 18 biosphere reserves and 12 out of them are part of the world network of biosphere reserves.

Importance of Biosphere Reserves:

  • This helps to ensure the environmental, economic and social sustainability of the region.
  • They help to revitalize rural areas and encourage diverse local economies.
  • It helps to preserve a region’s biodiversity and culture.
  • Biosphere reserves serve as learning sites for conservation and sustainable development initiatives.

Expanding Biosphere footprints:

  • The South and Central Asia MAB is planned for 2023.
  • An expert mission by UNESCO is planned to Bhutan, India’s North-East and the Sundarbans in Bangladesh.
  • South Asia has very diverse ecosystems and hence have great potential for biosphere expansion.

Way forward:

New world network for mountain biosphere reserves provides a great opportunity for expansion in the Indian subcontinent.

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