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Biosphere Reserve Strategy in India

Biosphere Reserve Strategy in India


  • Biosphere Reserve (BR) is an international designation by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes extending over large areas of terrestrial or coastal/marine ecosystems or a combination of both.
  • Biosphere Reserves tries to balance economic and social development and maintenance of associated cultural values along with the preservation of nature.
  • Biosphere Reserves are thus special environments for both people and nature and are living examples of how human beings and nature can co-exist while respecting each others’ needs.

Distribution of the Biosphere Reserves across the World 

  • 79 sites in 29 countries in Africa
  • 33 sites in 12 countries in the Arab States
  • 157 sites in 24 countries in Asia and the Pacific
  • 302 sites in 38 countries in Europe and North America
  • 130 sites in 21 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Zones of Biosphere

Biosphere reserves have three unified zones that aim to fulfill three harmonizing and mutually reinforcing functions:

  • The core area:  It involves an entirely secured and protected ecosystem that contributes to the preservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation.
  • The buffer zone: It encompasses or adjoins the core areas. It is utilized for activities compatible with sound ecological practices that can fortify scientific research, monitoring, training and education.
  • The transition area:  It is the part of the reserve where the greatest activity is permitted to promote economic and human development that is sustainable.

Functions of Biosphere Reserves

  • To conserve the diversity and integrity of plants and animals within natural ecosystems
  • To safeguard genetic diversity of species on which their continuing evolution depends
  • To ensure sustainable use of natural resources through most appropriate technology for improvement of economic well-being of the local people
  • To provide areas for multi-faceted research and monitoring
  • To provide facilities for education and training

National Biosphere Reserve Programme

  • India has created a network of protected areas in the form of 96 National Parks, 510 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 28 Tiger Reserves and 25 Elephant Reserves. The area covered under protected area network accounts for around 5% of the total geographical area of the country. The rich biodiversity in India has given shape to variety of cultural and ethnic diversity which includes over 550 tribal communities of 227 ethnic groups spread over 5,000 forest villages.
  • The national Biosphere Reserve Programme was initiated in 1986

Aims of the Scheme

  • To serve as wider base for conservation of entire range of living resources and their ecological foundations in addition to already established protected area network system
  • To bring out representative ecosystems under conservation and sustainable use on a long term basis.
  • To ensure participation of local inhabitants for effective management and devise means of improving livelihood of the local inhabitants through sustainable use.
  • To integrate scientific research with traditional knowledge of conservation, education and training as a part of the overall management of BR.

Man & Biosphere Programme   (Biosphere Reserve Strategy in India)

  • UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme was launched in 1971 with the aim of promoting interdisciplinary research, training, and communications in the field of ecosystem conservation and the rational use of natural resources.
  • The MAB Programme is suited to respond to the results of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and especially the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Differentiating National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries & Biosphere Reserves

  • National Parks and Wild Life sanctuaries come under the category called “Protected Areas”. The Protected Areas are declared under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 provides for 4 types of protected areas viz. Wild Life Sanctuaries, National Parks, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves.
  • The boundaries of the all 4 kinds of Protected Areas are notified by legislation.
  • The difference between a national park and a sanctuary is that no human activity is allowed inside a national park, while limited activities are permitted within the sanctuary.
  • In Biosphere Reserve, limited economic activity (sand and stone mining) is permitted.

Biosphere Reserves In India

As part of MAB(10)

  • Nilgiri-TN
  • Gulf of Mannar-TN
  • Sunderbans-WB
  • Nanda Devi-UK
  • Nokrek-Meghalaya
  • Panchmarhi-MP
  • Simlipal-Orissa
  • Amarkantak-MPCG
  • Great Nicobar-A&N
  • Agasthyamala-Kerala & TN

The other eight Biosphere Reserves are:

  • Manas-Assam
  • Dihang Dibang-Arunanchal
  • Great Rann of Kutch-Guj
  • Cold Desert-HP
  • Dibru-Saikhowa-Assam
  • Kangchenjunga-Sikkim
  • Panna-MP
  • Seshachalam-AP

Environment & Biodiversity

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