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  • In 1971, the UNESCO for the first time coined the term ‘biosphere reserves’.
  • According to UNESCO, biosphere reserves are the representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes, extending over large area, comprising of terrestrial or marine ecosystem or combination thereof.

Characteristics of biosphere reserves are listed below:

  • Human beings are an integral component of biospheare reserves.
  • Thus, biosphere reserves are living examples of how people and nature can coexist, while respecting each other’s needs.
  • They are the representative of an ecosystem.
  • It implies that biosphhere reserves possess physiological features, flora and fauna as those possessed by a particular ecosystem.
  • Biosphere researves have a core area which is undisturbed and other areas that can be used for educational activities, recreational activities, research, etc.

Criteria for the Selection of Biosphere Reserves  Primary Criteria

  • A site must contain an effectively protected and minimally disturbed core area which has value for natural conservation and should also include additional area for research, education, recreation purposes, etc.
  • The core area should be large enough to constitute a single biogeographical unit, i.e., it should sustain population representing all trophic levels in an ecosystem.

Secondary Criteria

  • Areas having rare and endangered species.
  • Areas having diverse climatic conditions and species.
  • Areas having potential for conservation of traditional or tribal mode of living.

Structure of Biosphere Reserves

Core zone

  • It is the most interior part of a biosphere reserve.
  • It comprises of an area which is absolutely undisturbed by human activities.

Buffer zone

  • Buffer zone surrounds the core zone.
  • Limited human activities such as recreation, fishing, grazing, research, education, etc., are allowed in this zone.

Transition zone or restoration zone

  • It is the outermost layer of a biosphere researve. It includes human settlement, areas for recreation, etc.
  • Buffer zone and transition zone are created to minimise the impact of human activities over core zone.

National Biosphere Reserve Programme

  • The National Biosphere Reaserve Programme (NBRP) began in India in 1986.
  • Under this Programme, the existing legally protected areas such as wildlife sanctuaries and national parks were made a part of biosphere researves.
  • Management of biospheres reserves including national parks and wildlife sanctuaries is the responsibility of the state governments.
  • The union government may provide necessary financial and technical assistance to the state governments.


Environment & Biodiversity