What are Biosphere Reserves
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- It is an international designation by UNESCO for representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes extending over large areas of terrestrial or coastal/marine ecosystems or a combination thereof.
- They are designated to deal with one of the most important questions of reconciling the conservation of biodiversity, the quest for economic and social development and maintenance of associated cultural values.
- They are nominated by national governments and remain under sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located, but become internationally recognized by UNESCO.
- Functions: Conservation & development of species of flora & fauna from dwindling in in-situ environment.
Structure of Biosphere Reserve
They are demarcated into the following 3 interrelated zones:
- Core Zone: Includes protected areas, as they act as reference points on the natural state of the ecosystems represented by the biosphere reserves. Have endemic species of plants & animals.
- A core zone is a protected region, like a National Park or Sanctuary/protected/regulated mostly under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. It is kept free from human interference.
- Buffer Zone: The buffer zone surrounds the core zone and its activities are managed in this area in the ways that help in the protection of the core zone in its natural condition.
- It includes restoration, limited tourism, fishing, grazing, etc; which are permitted to reduce its effect on the core zone.
- Research and educational activities are to be encouraged.
- Transition Zone : It is the outermost part of the biosphere reserve. It is the zone of cooperation where human ventures and conservation are done in harmony.
- It includes settlements, croplands, managed forests and areas for intensive recreation and other economic uses characteristics of the region.
Image Courtesy: UNESCO
Criteria for designation of Biosphere Reserves
- A site that must contain an effectively protected and minimally disturbed core area of value of nature conservation.
- The core area should be typical of a bio-geographical unit and large enough to sustain viable populations representing all trophic levels in the ecosystem.
- The management authority to ensure the involvement/cooperation of local communities to bring variety of knowledge and experiences to link biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development while managing and containing the conflicts.
- Areas potential for preservation of traditional tribal or rural modes of living for harmonious use of environment.
- The Biosphere Reserve Programme is guided by UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme as India is a signatory to the landscape approach supported by MAB programme.
- UNESCO MAB programme is an intergovernmental scientific program, launched in 1971 by UNESCO, that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments