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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 03 November, 2022

  • 7 Min Read

Increasing the Biosphere's Footprint

Increasing the Biosphere's Footprint

On November 3, 2022, the first 'International Day for Biosphere Reserves' will be held.

More information about the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR)

  • UNESCO established the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) in 1971.
  • The World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) is a network of internationally designated protected areas known as biosphere reserves that aim to demonstrate a harmonious relationship between people and nature (e.g. encourage sustainable development).
  • They were created as part of the Programme for Man and the Biosphere (MAB).

In terms of biosphere reserves:

  • All biosphere reserves are internationally recognised locations on land, at sea, or in the oceans.
  • There are 738 biosphere reserves in 134 countries, including 22 transboundary sites. They are given out in the following order:
  • 90 sites in 33 African countries
  • There are 36 sites in 14 Arab countries.
  • 172 locations in 24 Asian and Pacific countries
  • 308 locations in 41 European and North American countries
  • 132 locations in 22 Latin American and Caribbean countries.

There are 12 internationally recognised BRs in India. These are their names:

  • Nilgiri
  • Gulf of Mannar
  • Sunderban
  • Nanda Devi
  • Nokrek
  • Pachmarhi
  • Similipal
  • Achanakmar-Amarkantak
  • Great Nicobar
  • Agasthyamala
  • Khangchendzonga
  • Panna

Governments decide which areas to nominate and which to approve as biosphere reserves.

The sites are subjected to external scrutiny before being approved by UNESCO.

If approved, they will be managed according to a plan, with credibility checks, while remaining subject to the sovereignty of their national government.

Biosphere Reserves serve the following purposes:

Local communities and all interested stakeholders are involved in the planning and management of Biosphere Reserves. They combine three major "functions":

  • Biodiversity and cultural diversity conservation
  • Sustainable socio-cultural and environmental economic development
  • Supporting development through research, monitoring, education, and training.

Biosphere Reserve Organization

They are divided into three interconnected zones.

  • Protected areas are included in the core zone because they serve as reference points for the natural state of the ecosystems represented by the biosphere reserves. There are endemic plant and animal species.
  • A core zone is a protected region, such as a National Park or Sanctuary, that is mostly protected/regulated under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972.
  • It is kept free of human intervention.
  • Buffer Zone: The buffer zone surrounds the core zone, and its activities are managed in such a way that the core zone is protected in its natural state.
  • It allows for restoration, limited tourism, fishing, grazing, and other activities to reduce the impact on the core zone.
  • Research and educational activities will be promoted.
  • Zone of Transition: It is the biosphere reserve's most remote location. It is the zone of cooperation where human endeavours and conservation coexist.
  • It includes the region's settlements, croplands, managed forests, areas for intensive recreation, and other economic uses.

Biosphere reserve expansion

  • There are 12 biosphere reserves in India, four in Sri Lanka, and three in the Maldives.
  • Some South Asian countries do not yet have any or enough biosphere reserves.
  • Biospheres do not yet exist in Bangladesh, Bhutan, or Nepal.
  • Most, if not all, cases have the political will, but there is a lack of know-how and financial resources.

Expansion is required:

  • Because of our collective excesses, the earth's ecological carrying capacity has been greatly exceeded.
  • As a result, it was felt that there was a need to address this trend with cleaner air, high-quality drinking water, and enough food and healthy habitats to ensure that ecosystem services continue to benefit humanity while not jeopardising nature's balance.

Way Forward

  • The 'South and Central Asia MAB Reserve' Networking Meeting (MAB stands for Man and the Biosphere) is scheduled for 2023 to advance the establishment and management of biosphere reserves.
  • In addition, an expert mission to Bhutan, India's northeast, and Bangladesh's Sundarbans is planned for spring 2023.
  • With at least one biosphere reserve in each of Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal until 2025 (and additional biosphere reserves in India's North-East and along the coasts), millions of people will realise that a better future lies in conservation of biosphere.

Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme

  • MAB is an intergovernmental scientific programme established by UNESCO in 1971.
  • Its goal is to establish a scientific foundation for improving relationships between people and their environments.
  • The MAB programme offers a one-of-a-kind platform for collaboration on research and development, capacity building, and networking in order to share information, knowledge, and experience on three interconnected issues: biodiversity loss, climate change, and sustainable development.
  • The programme addresses scientific, environmental, societal, and development issues in a variety of ecosystems, ranging from mountain regions to marine, coastal, and island areas, and from tropical forests to dry lands and urban areas.

Source: The Hindu


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