- 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.
How did the biosphere reserve concept start?
- The origin of Biosphere Reserves goes back to the “Biosphere Conference” organized by UNESCO in 1968.
- This was the 1st intergovernmental conference examining how to reconcile the conservation and use of natural resources, thereby foreshadowing the presentday notion of sustainable development.
- This Conference resulted in the launching of the UNESCO “Man and the Biosphere” (MAB) Programme in 1970.
- One of the original MAB projects consisted in establishing a coordinated World Network of sites representing the main ecosystems of the planet in which genetic resources would be protected, and where research on ecosystems as well as monitoring and training work could be carried out.
- These sites were named as “Biosphere Reserves”, in reference to the MAB programme itself.
What are the functions of biosphere reserves?
- Each biosphere reserve is intended to fulfil 3 basic functions, which are complementary and mutually reinforcing:
- a conservation function – to contribute to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation;
- a development function – to foster economic and human development which is socioculturally and ecologically sustainable;
- a logistic function – to provide support for research, monitoring, education and information exchange related to local, national and global issues of conservation and development.
What are the biosphere reserve zones?
- the core area
- the buffer zone
- the transition area
- Only the core area requires legal protection and hence can correspond to an existing protected area such as a nature reserve or a national park. This zonation scheme is applied in many different ways in the real world to accommodate geographical conditions, sociocultural settings, available legal protection measures and local constraints.
- This flexibility can be used creatively and is one of the strongest points of the biosphere reserve concept, facilitating the integration of protected areas into the wider landscape.
What are the benefits of biosphere reserves?
- The biosphere reserve concept can be used as a framework to guide and reinforce projects to enhance people’s livelihoods and ensure environmental sustainability. UNESCO’s recognition can serve to highlight and reward such individual efforts.
- The designation of a site as a biosphere reserve can raise awareness among local people, citizens and government authorities on environmental and development issues. It can help to attract additional funding from different sources.
- At the national level, biosphere reserves can serve as pilot sites or ‘learning places’ to explore and demonstrate approaches to conservation and sustainable development, providing lessons which can be applied elsewhere.
- In addition, they are a concrete means for countries to implement Agenda 21, the Convention on Biological Diversity (for example the Ecosystem Approach), many Millennium Development Goals (for example on environmental sustainability), and the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.
- In the case of large natural areas which straddle national boundaries, transboundary biosphere reserves can be established jointly by the countries concerned, testifying to long-term cooperative efforts.
India and biosphere reserves
- With the addition of the ABR, 10 of the 18 biosphere reserves in the country have made it to the list.
- The others are Nilgiri, Gulf of Mannar, Sunderban, Nanda Devi, Nokrek, Pachmarh, Similipal, Achanakmar-Amarkantak and Great Nicobar.
- The BRs are designated for inclusion in the network by the International Coordinating Council after evaluating the nominations forwarded by the State through National MAB Committees.
- The ABR would benefit from the shared scientific expertise of all the other members of the world network. The State is expected to work for the conservation of nature at the reserve while it fosters the sustainable development of its population, said a UNESCO official.
- There are 669 biosphere reserves in as many as 120 countries.
UNESCO updates protected biosphere reserves list
- The United Nation’s cultural body UNESCO has added 20 new sites to its network of protected biosphere nature reserves, including two in Canada and two in Portugal.
- The status was conferred during a two-day meeting in Lima, which brought the total number of biosphere reserves to 669 across 120 countries.
- In Canada, the Tsa Tue area in the country’s Northwest Territories that includes the last pristine arctic lake was added to the list, as was the Beaver Hills region of Alberta, which has a landscape formed by a retreating glacier.
- Britain’s Isle of Man, located in the Irish Sea in a biologically diverse marine environment, and Mexico’s Isla Cozumel were also selected for the network.
- And in Portugal, the entire Island of Sao Jorge, the fourth largest in the Azores Archipelago, was designated a reserve in addition to the Tajo River region between Portugal and Spain.
- The list of new UNESCO biosphere reserves also includes sites in Algeria, Ghana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines and Tanzania.
- Of the hundreds of locations on the list, 16 are sites that stretch across more than one country. Spain is the country with the largest number of registered reserves.
- During the meeting, nine extensions to existing biosphere reserves were also approved.
- Meanwhile, the Australia ended its push to log World Heritage-listed forests on the island State of Tasmania , after UNESCO issued a report calling for the area to remain protected from logging.
India’s Agasthyamala among 20 UNESCO world biosphere reserves
- The sustained campaign to include the Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve (ABR) in UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves (BR) has eventually paid off.
- The Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve was included at the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere programme of UNESCO that concluded in Peru on March 19.
Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve
- The ABR is situated at the southern-most end of the Western Ghats and spread over Kerala and Tamil Nadu and covers an area of 3,500 sq km at an altitude ranging from 100 metres to 1,868 metres above the Mean Sea Level.
- The ABR covers the Shendurney and Peppara wildlife sanctuaries and parts of the Neyyar sanctuary in Kerala and the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve of Tamil Nadu.
- The area falls in the Malabar rainforests and is one of the noted hotspot areas because of its position in the Western Ghats, according to the management plan of the reserve. It is estimated that more than 2,250 species of dicotyledonous plants are in the area and 29 are endemic to the region. Many plants are considered endangered too.
- Researchers have noted that about 400 Red Listed Plants have been recorded from ABR. About 125 species of orchids and rare, endemic and threatened plants have been recorded from the reserve
- The Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve was the only site considered from the country by the International Advisory Committee for Biosphere Reserves during the Paris session held last year. That time, the ABR was listed in the category of “nominations recommended for approval, pending the submission of specific information.”
Weighing in the environmental perspective for sustained growth, the Ministry of Shipping has started ‘Project Green Ports’ which will help in making the Major Ports across India cleaner and greener. ‘Project ...READ MORE
Earth Summit 1992 Earth Summit 1992 was the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), commonly known as the Rio Summit or Rio Conference Outcomes Rio Declaration on Environment and Development Agenda 21 Convention ...READ MORE
Despite the Animal Welfare Board of India’s ‘request’ to the State government to stop Kambala for the year 2015-16 it will be held. Administrations of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi will follow ...READ MORE
Land degradation is posing a major threat to India’s food and environmental security, resulting from the loss in the biological or productive capacity of soil. Agriculture and soil experts expressed ...READ MORE
Why in News: The first Sewage Treatment Plant using latest technology called the Sequential Batch Reactor Technology has been commissioned by the Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board at Malur ...READ MORE
The Minister of Civil Aviation Shri P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju released the National Civil Aviation Policy 2016. This is the first time since independence that an integrated Civil Aviation Policy has ...READ MORE
A new chapter in the country’s transport sector has been initiated which moves towards clean fuel, India’s first liquefied natural gas-driven bus was launched in Kerala. Union Petroleum and Natural Gas ...READ MORE
Reforming criminals Judgement was given in a majority judgment of the five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu observed in the Rajiv Gandhi killers’ remission case. They noted that ...READ MORE
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated First National Tribal Carnival-2016 in New Delhi on 25th Oct The tribal carnival would showcase the capabilities of the tribal communities, in the national capital. The Prime ...READ MORE
Ministry of Shipping initiates Project Green Port
Kyoto to Paris- All about climate change negotiations
Kambala to be held in Dakshina Kannada
Land degradation in India
Sewage Treatment Plant in Kolar District
All about National Civil Aviation Policy, 2016
Kerala becomes first State in India to roll
SC judgement : Remission of sentences
National Tribal Carnival 2016
The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2015