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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme (MAB) was established in 1977 to promote an interdisciplinary approach to research, training and communications in ecosystem conservation and rational use of natural resources.


Map showing the World Network of Biosphere Reserves as of 2009. Note: transboundary sites have been redistributed among the concerned countries for the locator map, hence, have been counted multiple times.

The programme’s primary output comes in the form of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves—a listing of local units, known as biosphere reserves, found in different countries across all the regions of the world. Biosphere reserves are protected areas that are meant to demonstrate a balanced relationship between man and nature (e.g. sustainable development).

Inclusion in the World Network starts with nominations as prepared by national governments. Benefits gained from being part of the network include the integration of conservation, development and scientific research concerns to sustainably manage the shared ecosystems.

Owing to the program’s focus to man’s relationship with nature, MAB has gradually been seen as UNESCO’s, and the United Nations’s, response to the issues raised by succeeding international dialogues dedicated to environmental concerns, such as the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

During the initial years of the program, the designation of biosphere reserves has focused more on the conservation of the environment per se. Hence, among areas that have been included in the network are national parks encompassing isolated wilderness with outstanding biodiversity values. Through the years, the program’s focus has shifted from the idea of isolated natural environs to one that allows for the interaction with man in terms of sustainable living and education. Hence, places where livelihood is sustained, including urban greenbelts have increasingly figured in the World Network.

In 1995, an International Conference on Biosphere Reserves held in Seville formally defined and designated a set procedure in the recognition and inclusion of potential biosphere reserves based on this newfound purpose into the World Network. Criteria have also been rigidly set to ensure that the objectives of the programme will be met. Thus, some biosphere reserves which have been included during the early phase of the program have either been withdrawn from the network or redefined so as to remain relevant to this new setting.

To date, 553 biosphere reserves occurring in 107 countries have been included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

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A biosphere reserve is an international conservation designation given by UNESCO under its Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB). The World Network of Biosphere Reserves is the collection of all 533 biosphere reserves in 107 countries (as of May, 2009).[1]

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,” and thus consist of combinations of terrestrial, coastal, or marine ecosystems.

Through appropriate zoning and management, the conservation of these ecosystems and their biodiversity is sought to be maintained.

The design of the reserve must include a legally protected core area, a buffer area where non-conservation activities are prohibited, and a transition zone where approved practices are permitted. This is done with regard for the sustainable use of natural resources for the benefit of local communities. This effort requires relevant research, monitoring, education and training.

All the above are tools for implementing Agenda 21, the Convention on Biological Diversity and other international agreements.

For a full list of all Biosphere Reserves, see World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

See also

File:Earth flag Ecology portal
File:Sustainable Sustainable development portal


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