What is Biosphere Reserve?
A biosphere reserve is a protected area established to promote the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems while also allowing sustainable use of natural resources by local communities. The Biosphere Reserves are identified not only to protect the flora and fauna of the protected region, but also for the human communities who inhabit these regions, and their ways of life. Biosphere Reserves tries to balance economic and social development and maintenance of associated cultural values along with the preservation of nature. Biosphere reserves are designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as part of its Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program.
What is the Man and Biosphere Programme?
The UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme under the World Network of Biosphere Reserves was launched in 1971. The World Network of Biosphere Reserves of the MAB Programme fosters the harmonious integration of people and the nature of sustainable development through- Participatory dialogue, Knowledge sharing, Poverty reduction, Human well-being improvements, Respect for cultural values, Society’s ability to cope with change to improve human livelihoods, the MAB combines natural and social sciences, economics, and education. In conclusion, it is a main international tool to develop and implement sustainable development approaches in a wide array of contexts.
Objective of Biosphere Reserve
Due to enhancing population, urbanization, deforestation, and pollution, there is an increasing crisis in the existence of living organisms. Many types of animals and their species have also become extinct, for example, you can see some birds like sparrows, vultures, and other animals which are no longer visible around you. The existence of different types of plants and animals on the earth is important for ecological balance. Decreasing biodiversity is an indication of natural disasters and other harmful effects on nature. So, it is important to conserve biodiversity.
To maintain the goal, the concept of the Biosphere Reserve came into action in the World. The main objective of biosphere reserves is to promote the conservation of biodiversity, support sustainable development, and facilitate research and monitoring of ecological systems. By combining conservation with sustainable development, biosphere reserves strive to create a balanced relationship between people and their environment.
Functions of a Biosphere Reserve
• Conservation function: To conserve genetic resources, species, ecosystems, and landscapes. Along with the wildlife, the culture and customs of tribals are also protected
• Development function: To promote sustainable human and economic development. It seeks to strengthen the three pillars of sustainable development:
social, economic, and protection of the environment.
• Logistic support function: To provide support for research, monitoring, education, and information exchange related to local, national, and global issues of conservation and development.
Structure of Biosphere Reserve
Biosphere reserves typically consist of three interconnected zones: a core area, a buffer zone, and a transition zone. The core area is strictly protected and is usually home to rare or endangered species, while the buffer zone is a buffer area where limited human activity is allowed. The transition zone is the outermost area where sustainable development and human activities are encouraged. Let’s discuss them one by one in detail.
The Biosphere Reserve is mainly divided into three zones:
• Core zone
• Buffer zone
• Transition zone
1. Core Zones
This is the Central part of biosphere reserve areas. It is for the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species, and genetic variation. It is a fully restricted area for human activities but research work can be done without harassment of any kind.
2. Buffer Zones
Limited restriction compared to the Core area. Buffer zones are those areas that are situated between the core zone and the transition zone. In this area, Limited human activities like Education, Research, and Training are permitted with some conditions.
3. Transition Zones
Outer areas around the Biosphere Reserve are known as the Transition Zone. Also known as Manipulation Zone. Several human activities like Tourism, Human Settlements, Education, etc are allowed here.
List of Biosphere Reserves in India
Biosphere reserves are announced by the state or central governments by notification. The Governments can nominate them under UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme after its establishment as a biosphere reserve. There are 18 biosphere reserves in India.
Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve
Tamil Nadu, Kerela ,Karnataka
Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve
Gulf of Mannar
Pachmarchi Biosphere Reserve
Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve
Madhya Pradesh, Chhattishgarh
Great Rann of kutch
Khangchendzonga National Park
Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve
Kerala, Tamil Nadu
Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve
Andaman and Nicobar
Distribution of the Biosphere Reserves in the World:
• 157 sites in 24 countries in Asia and the Pacific
• 302 sites in 38 countries in Europe and North America
• 85 sites in 31 countries in Africa
• 33 sites in 12 countries in the Arab States
• 130 sites in 21 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean
Map of the Biosphere Reserves in India
Biosphere reserve is a multipurpose protected area to conserve genetic diversity, promote research in ecology, provide facilities for education, awareness training, etc. So we also say that the Biosphere reserve is a living laboratory. Biosphere reserves not only protect animals and plants but also protect the communities and their lifestyle who have lived there.