A biosphere reserve is an international conservation designation initiated by UNESCO under its Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB) in 1971. According to “The Statutory Framework of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves,” biosphere reserves are created “to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship between humans and the biosphere.”
Under article 4, biosphere reserves must “encompass a mosaic of ecological systems.” Through appropriate zoning and management, the conservation of these ecosystems and their biodiversity is sought to be maintained. The purpose of the formation of the biosphere reserve is to conserve in situ all forms of life, along with its support system, in its totality, so that it could serve as a referral system for monitoring and evaluating changes in natural ecosystems.
They are internationally recognized, nominated by National Governments and remain under sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located. Biosphere Reserves serve in some ways as ‘living laboratories’ for testing out and demonstrating integrated management of land, water and biodiversity (CES., UNESCO, 2005., IUCN, 1979). Each Biosphere Reserve is intended to fulfill three 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 socio-culturally 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 (UNESCO, 2005).
Presently, there are 14 existing biosphere reserves in India.
Area of Biosphere
Date of establish-
Madhya Pradesh & Chhattishgarh
Andaman and Nicobar
Gulf of Mannar
Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka