Biosphere reserves


What is a Biosphere Reserve?

A Biosphere Reserve is a special ecosystem or a specialized environment with a flora and fauna that require protection and nurturing. These reserves are managed and studied for the conservation of various life forms found here. They are subjects of scientific and natural interest.

According to UNESCO, “Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems promoting solutions to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They are internationally recognized, nominated by national governments and remain under sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located”.

In 1971, UNESCO launched a global programme to formalize the scientific interaction between man and his natural environment. This programme is called the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB).  Some 120 countries have joined in by establishing 669 biosphere reserves, including 16 transboundary reserves connected by the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The MAB is a worthy initiative aimed at conserving the ecology and environment which is essential to the very survival of many rare and dying species of flora and fauna. India, with its rich treasure trove of biodiversity, is geographically ideal for establishing, cultivating and maintaining a variety of biosphere reserves.

Biosphere Reserves in India

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India defines Biosphere Reserves thus – “Biosphere Reserves (BRs) are representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes extending over large area of terrestrial or coastal/marine ecosystems or a combination thereof and representative examples of bio-geographic zones/province”. The Government of India has established about 18 different Biosphere Reserves in the country. Of these, 10 are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, set up under the auspices of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme. Not only are animals protected in the Biosphere Reserves of our country but the natural lifestyle of the indigenous people is also promoted. The communities in these regions are encouraged to retain their agrarian lifestyle and develop harmony with the plants and animals. The Biosphere Reserves of India correspond roughly to the IUCN Category V Protected Areas list and are often designed to include one or more national parks and national sanctuaries. The buffer zones of these Biosphere Reserves are open to economic activities as well.

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