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सेमिनार: अंग्रेज़ी सीखने का अवसर (23 सितंबर: दोपहर 3 बजे)
Jul 08, 2014

UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) is an Intergovernmental Scientific Programme that was launched in 1971. It aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments.  It proposes interdisciplinary research, demonstration and training in natural resources management.

It is World Network of Biosphere Reserves currently counts 621 biosphere reserves in 117 countries all over the world.

Programme develops the basis within the natural and social sciences for the rational and sustainable use and conservation of the resources of the biosphere and for the improvement of the overall relationship between people and their environment. It predicts the consequences of today’s actions on tomorrow’s world and thereby increases people’s ability to efficiently manage natural resources for the well-being of both human populations and the environment.

By focusing on sites internationally recognized within the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, the MAB Programme strives to:

  • Identify and assess the changes in the biosphere resulting from human and natural activities and the effects of these changes on humans and the environment, in particular in the context of climate change;

  • Study and compare the dynamic interrelationships between natural/near-natural ecosystems and socio-economic processes, in particular in the context of accelerated loss of biological and cultural diversity with unexpected consequences that impact the ability of ecosystems to continue.

  • To provide services critical for human well-being;

  • Ensure basic human welfare and a livable environment in the context of rapid urbanization and energy consumption as drivers of environmental change;

  • Promote the exchange and transfer of knowledge on environmental problems and solutions, and to foster environmental education for sustainable.



A Biosphere Reserve is a unique and representative ecosystem of terrestrial and coastal areas which are internationally recognized, within the framework of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme. The biosphere reserve should fulfill the following three objectives:

  • In-situ conservation of biodiversity of natural and semi-natural ecosystems and landscapes

  • Contribution to sustainable economic development of the human population living within and around the Biosphere Reserve.

  • Provide facilities for long term ecological studies, environmental education and training and research and monitoring.

In order to fulfill the above objectives, the Biosphere Reserves are classified into zones like the core area, buffer area. The system of functions is prescribed for each zone.

Zonation of Biosphere Reserve :

One or more core zones: Securely protected sites for conserving biological diversity, monitoring minimally distributed ecosystems and undertaking non-destructive research and other low-impact uses (such as eco-tourism and education).

A well defined buffer zone: Usually surrounds or adjoins the core zones and is used for cooperative activities compatible with sound ecological practices, including environmental education, recreation and applied and basic research.

A flexible transition area or area of cooperation: May contain a variety of agricultural activities, settlements and other uses and in which local communities, management agencies, scientists, non-governmental organizations, cultural groups, economic interests and other stakeholders work together to manage and sustainably develop the area’s resources.

To fulfill the main objectives of a Biosphere Reserve, the local people’s support is essential. In 1994, UNESCO recommended 10 important points for this purpose.

They are:

  • Recognize that local support is fundamental to the long-term conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

  • Ensure that local populations participate as true partners in designing and managing conservation programmes.

  • Allow local populations to identify their own socio-economic needs.

  • Ensure that people who bear the costs of conservation projects (e.g. restrictions on fishing) also receive a huge proportion of benefits (e.g. tourist revenues).

  • Initiate research activities that identify options for sustainable use of biodiversity.

  • Use indigenous knowledge to manage protected areas to the extent possible.

  • Ensure that local populations have maximum stewardship over local resources (rather than government agencies at the regional and national levels).

  • Offer income-earning activities and/or services (e.g. improved access too markets, low interest credit, controlled access to resources) to local populations and others with a stake in conservation-development projects.

  • Provide local population with the skills and resources needed to make life-style changes necessitated by conservation measures.

Educate local populations about the rationale for conservation and the relationship between conservation actions and benefits.

Selection Criteria of Biosphere Reserves  :

The concept of Biosphere Reserves, especially its zonation, into Core Area(s) (dedicated to conservation), Buffer Area(s) (sustainable use) and Transition Area(s) (equitable sharing of benefits) were later broadly adopted under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) process which entered into force on 29th December, 1993. 

Primary Criteria: 

  • A site that must contain an effectively protected and minimally disturbed core area of value of nature conservation and should include additional land and water suitable for research and demonstration of sustainable methods of research and management. 

  • The core area should be typical of a biogeographical unit and large enough to sustain viable populations representing all trophic levels in the ecosystem. 

Secondary Criteria :

  • Areas having rare and endangered species.

  • Areas having diversity of soil and micro-climatic conditions and indigenous varieties of biota.

  • Areas potential for preservation of traditional tribal or rural modes of living for harmonious use of environment.

Why do we need Biosphere Reserves :

To conserve biological diversity: Human pressures on land and water resources are drastically reducing the diversity of genes, plant and animal species, ecosystems and landscapes of the planet. This threatens human welfare, since this biodiversity is the potential source of foods, fibers, medicines, and raw material for industry and building. It constitutes an irreplaceable wealth for research, education and recreation for the whole of humankind. The core areas and buffer zones of biosphere reserves serve as repositories to safeguard samples of the biodiversity of the world's major biogeographical regions, and as reference and study sites to help improve our knowledge on biodiversity.

To maintain healthy ecosystems:  Biosphere reserves, which may represent large areas of land and water, contribute significantly to the maintenance of the life support systems which serve to avoid soil erosion, maintain soil fertility, regulate river flow, recharge aquifers, recycle nutrients, and absorb air and water pollutants.

To learn about natural systems and how they are changing: Research may be conducted on the structure and dynamics of the minimally disturbed natural systems of the core areas of biosphere reserves, and compared with the functioning of human-affected landscapes in the buffer and transition areas. Such studies, when carried out over the long term, show how these systems may be changing over time. Setting up similar long-term monitoring plots, and harmonizing methods and measurements allows comparison of results regionally and worldwide. The information thus obtained allows us to better understand global environmental changes.


Local communities: these ranges from local indigenous communities to rural societies, including country home owners. There are various potential benefits to such people, such as protection of basic land and water resources, a more stable and diverse economic base, additional employment, more influence in land-use decision-making, reduced conflict with protected area administrations and interest groups, a continued opportunity to maintain existing traditions and lifestyles, and a more healthy environment for these local communities and their children.

Farmers, foresters, fishermen: Biosphere reserves provide access to training and demonstration projects on alternative land- uses and management strategies which maintain natural values, such as soil fertility and water quality, which make the best use of the available human and financial resources.

Scientists: Biosphere reserves encourage research, for example on ecological processes or on biological diversity. They are areas offering a growing database on which to build new hypotheses and experiments. In addition, biosphere reserves provide long-term security for permanent plots and monitoring activities, which serve to identify longer-term trends over short-term fluctuations, as may be caused by changes in climate, etc. Biosphere reserves also allow for interdisciplinary research and monitoring comparative studies, and information exchange. They can thus encourage the allocation of national or international research funds.

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. 


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