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  • 02 April, 2021

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Biosphere Reserves and their significance- UPSC Exam

Biosphere Reserves and Significance- UPSC Exam

This topic helps you to cover:

  • Biosphere reserves (BSR) in detail.
  • Understand the UPSC pattern of the Questionnaire.
  • Get a mental map of bio sphere reserves linking them with physiography, climate, tribes, flora and fauna of the region.

Salient Features of Biosphere Reserves:

  • It comprises of terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems
  • People are integral component of the system.
  • Their status is internationally recognized and ecosystem oriented.
  • Boundaries are circumscribed by legislation. Attention is provided on gene pool conservation.
  • They are nominated by the Center and under the sovereign jurisdiction of States where they are located.

Zonation in Biosphere Reserves

Qn. The most important strategy for the conservation of biodiversity together with traditional human life is the establishment of (2014)

  1. biosphere reserves
  2. botanical gardens
  3. national parks
  4. wildlife sanctuaries

Solution (a)

Main characteristics of Biosphere Reserves (BSR)

  • Aim at achieving 3 functions: Conservation, Development and logistic support.
  • Outpacing traditionally confined conservation zones, through appropriate zoning schemes combining core protected areas with zones with local dwellers and enterprises.
  • Multi-stakeholder approach with special emphasis on the involvement of local communities in management.
  • In situ conservation of species-Protection in its natural habitat
  • Fostering dialogue for conflict resolution of natural resource use.
  • Integrating cultural and biological diversity, especially the role of traditional knowledge in ecosystem management.
  • Acting as sites of excellence for education and training.
  • Participating in the World Network.
  • For more info: refer class notes

Qn. Which one of the following is not a site for the in-situ method of conservation of flora? (2011)

  1. Biosphere Reserve
  2. Botanical Garden
  3. National Park
  4. Wildlife Sanctuary

Solution (b)

Map Showing Biosphere Reserves of the Country



Reserve & State

Physiography & Vegetation

Bio Diversity & Indigenous Tribes

Wildlife Protected Areas




Part of World Network of Bio sphere Reserve (WNBR)

Parts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka.

Area: 5520 (in km2), largest in Tamil Nadu Core area: 1250 km²


Bhavani, Moyar, Kabini (tribuatries of Cauvery), Chaliyar, Punampuzha etc.

Vegetation : In TN, Kerala: Moist Evergreen, Semi-Evergreen, Thorn, Savannah Woodland, Montane Sholas and Grassland

In Kar: dry deciduous forests and thorn forests.

Key Fauna: Nilgiri Tahr, Nilgiri langur, Lion tailed macaque,

Other: Bonnet macaque, Malabar giant squirrel and Nilgiri marten.

Birds: Nilgiri pipit, Nilgiri laughing thrush, Nilgiri flycatcher, great Hornbill, and Malabar grey hornbill.

Tribal groups like the Badagas, Todas, Kotas, Irulas, Kurumbas,Chola Naikans are native to the reserve.

  1. Mudumalai Sanctuary(WLS) (Also Tiger Reserve and NP)
  2. Nagarhole National Park(NP) (Also Tiger Reserve),
  3. Bandipur NP(Also Tiger Reserve)
  4. Mukurthi National Park
  5. Silent Valley NP
  6. Aralam WLS
  7. Siruvani Hills
  8. Nilambur Hills.
  9. Wayanad WLS

10. Sathyamangalam WLS and TR.

Quick Fact:

About 80% of flowering plants reported from Western Ghats occur in Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve


Nanda Devi (1988)

Part of WNBR


Area: 5860 (in km2) Core Area: 712.12 km²

Rivers :

Rishi Ganga

Vegetation : Mixed temperate and subalpine


Fir, birch, rhododendron and juniper are the main flora.

Climate: Dry with low yearly precipitation.

Fauna: Himalayan tahr, Brown bear, Koklas pheasant

Indigenous Tribes:


Nanda Devi NP, Valley of Flowers National Park

Entire area is located within the Western Himalayas Endemic Bird Area (EBA)


Nokrek (1988)

Meghalaya (part of Garo Hills)

Part of WNBR

Area : 820 (in km2)
Core 47.48 km2

Rivers : Ganol, Dareng and Simsang

Vegetation: Evergreen and semi-evergreen deciduous forests

Climate :

Tropical Monsoon type.

Fauna: Stump tailed macaque, Pig-tailed macaque, Giant flying squirrel

Indigenous Tribes :

Garo Bania, Hajjons

Nokrek National Park


Great Nicobar (1989)

Anadaman & Nicobar Islands

Part of WNBR

Area: 885 (in km2) Core Area: 705 km²

Southern most islands of Andaman And Nicobar (A&N Islands).


Galathea, Alexandria, Amrit kaur and Dagmar

Vegetation: Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, and located in the Indomalayan realm.

Flora: Screw pine, Nipa palm, Ceylon iron wood.


Tropical Monsoon

Fauna: The Nicobar long-tailed macaque, Saltwater crocodile, Giant leatherback sea turtle, Malayan box turtle, Nicobar tree shrew, Reticulated python and the Giant robber crab or Coconut crab.

Indigenous inhabitants:

Nicobarese and Shompen

Larger Campbell Bay National Park on the northern part of the island, and Galathea National Park in the southern interior.


Gulf of Mannar (1989)

Tamil Nadu

Part of WNBR

Area : 10500 (in km2)

Indian part of Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka (Tamil Nadu)

The Malvathu Oya (Malvathu River) of Sri Lanka and the estuaries of Thamirabarani River and Vaippar River of South India drain into the Gulf.

Vegetation: Tropical Dry Broad-leafed forest, seaweed communities, sea grass communities , coral reefs, salt marshes and mangrove forests.

Endemic Flora: Endemic Flora : Morning glory, Jatropha, Halophila grass


both south-west and north-east monsoon

Fauna: Sea Cow Dugong, Sea Anemone, Sea fans

First marine Biosphere Reserve in India

Falls within the Indo-Malayan realm





Area : 2837 (in km2)
Core 391 km2

NOT Part of WNBR

Part of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamrup and Darrang Districts

Part of delta of Ganges and Brahamaputr river system

(West Bengal).

Manas-Beki system

Vegetation: Semi-evergreen forests mixed moist and dry deciduous forests, alluvial grasslands, creeper swamp forest, Eastern seasonal Swamp Forest, Cane and bamboo brakes

Endemic Flora: Catechu tree, Sisoo, White siris

Climate: Tropical Monsoon

Endemic Fauna: Pygmy hog, Golden lungur , Assam roofed turtle

Indigenous inhabitants:

Bodos and Adhivasi tribes

The reserve has six national and international designations (i.e. World Heritage Site, National Park, Tiger Reserve, Biosphere Reserve, Elephant Reserve and Important Bird Area)


Sunderbans (1989)

West Bengal

Area : 9630 (in km2)
Core 1700 km2

Part of WNBR

Part of delta of Ganges and Brahamaputra river system
(West Bengal).



Tidal Swamp Forests, Saline Water Type Mixed Forests, Brackish Water Type Mixed Forests, Palm Swamp Type

Flora: Sundari, Passur, Nypa

Climate: Tropical Monsoon


Bengal tiger, Bengal monitor lizard, Salvator lizard

Aquatic: Gangetic dolphin, estuarine crocodile, river terrapin, olive ridley turtle,

Indigenous inhabitants:

Chandra-bandhe tribes.

Sundarban NP /Sundarban tiger Reserve

Sajnekhali WLS

Lothian WLS

Haliday WLS


Simlipal (1994)


Area : 4374 (in km2)
Core 845 km2

Part of WNBR

Part of Mayurbhanj district (Orissa).

Burhabalang, Palpala Bhandan, Kharkai and Deo River

Vegetation: Tropical Semi Evergreen, Tropical Moist Deciduous Forests,
Dry Deciduous Hill Forests, High Level Sal Forest, Grasslands

Endemic Flora: Coix grass

Climate: Tropical Monsoon

Rainfall:150- 200 cm spread over about 135 days.

Fauna: Red breasted falconet, Slender billed scimitar babbler, Ruddy mongoose

Indigenous inhabitants:

Kolha, Santal, Bhumija, Bhatudi, Gond, Khadia, Lodha, Ho and Makadia

1.Similipal Tiger Reserve,

2.Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary

3.Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary

The biosphere reserve has the largest zone of Sal in all of India.


Dibru-Saikhowa (1997)


Area : 765 (in km2)
Core 340 km2

NOT Part of WNBR

Part of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia Districts (Assam)

Rivers: Dibru, Bramhaputra

Vegetation: semi wet evergreen forests, tropical moist deciduous forest, bamboo, swamp forests, cane brakes and grasslands.

Endemic Flora: Rauvolfia (Sarpagandhi), Benteak, Livistona (orchid)

Climate: Tropical monsoon

Endemic Fauna: White winged wood duck, Hollock-gibbon, Wild buffalo

Indigenous inhabitants:

Mishing, Muttock, Moran, Sonowal Kachari.

Dibru-Saikhowa National Park

(was declared wildlife sanctuary in 1986)




Arunachal Pradesh

Area : 5111 (in km2)
Core 4094 km2

NOT Part of WNBR

Part of Siang and Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh.

Dehang, Debang and their tributaries


Sub-tropical broad-leaved, sub-tropical pine, temperate broad-leaved, temperate conifer, sub-alpine woody shrub, alpine meadow, bamboo brakes and grassland.

Endemic Flora: Tree fern, Begonia, Lady’s slipper orchid

Climate : subtropical, temperate, alpine


Mishmi takin, red goral, musk deer, Red panda, Himalayan black bear, Green pit viper.

Indigenous inhabitants:

Adi, Buddhist and Mishmi tribes

1. Mouling National Park

2. Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary


Panchmarhi (1999) Madhya Pradesh

Area : 4926 (in km2)
Core 525 km2

Part of WNBR

Parts of Betul, Hoshangabad and Chindwara districts of Madhya Pradesh.


Vegetation: Moist deciduous, Dry deciduous, Sub tropical hill forest.

Endemic Flora: Sal tree, Selaginella fern, Palimorpha bamboo


Tropical Monsoon climate

Endemic Fauna: Barasinga, Wild buffalo, Red jungle fowl

Indigenous inhabitants:

Gond, Korku and Bharia

1.Bori Sanctuary,

2.Pachmarhi Sanctuary

3. Satpura National Park

These altogether has also been notified as Satpura Tiger Reserve

Pachmarhi BR area is often recognized as “Genetic Express Highway” linking two biological hot spots of the country viz. Eastern Himalayas and Western Ghats, also as confluence of northern and southern type of vegetation.





Area : 2619 (in km2)
Core 1819 km2

Part of WNBR

Parts of Khangchendzonga hills and Sikkim.




Sub-tropical to alpine-

Himalayan wet temperate forest, and temperate broad leaved forest, mixed coniferous forest, sub-alpine a forests and dry alpine forest

Endemic Flora: Anemone, Sikkim Rhododendron, Sikkim Mahonia

Climate: Varies with altitude, aspect


Tibetan sheep, Musk deer, Monal pheasant, Snow patridge

Indigenous inhabitants:


Kanchenjunga National Park

India’s first Mixed Heritage Site


Agasthyamalai (2001)

Kerala, Tamil Nadu

Area : 3500 (in km2)
Core 1828 km2

Part of WNBR

Part of “Hottest biodiversity hotspots”


Vegetation: Thorn moist deciduous and semi-evergreens

Endemic Flora: Rudraksha tree, Black plums, Gaub tree, Wild dhaman

Climate: Tropical Monsoon

Endemic Fauna: Lion-tailed macaque, Slender loris, Great pied hornbill

Indigenous inhabitants:

Kani Tribe

1.Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary

2.Peppara Wildlife sanctuary

3.Shendumey wildlife Sanctuary

4. Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve.




States of Madhya Pradesh(Anuppur and Dindori districts) and upto 70% of BSR in Chhattisgarh(Bilaspur district)

Area : 3831 (in km2)
Core: 551 km2

Part of WNBR


Narmada, Johilla and Sone,

Vegetation: Tropical deciduous . Further classified into Northern Tropical Moist Deciduous and Southern Dry Mixed Deciduous forests

Climate: Tropical Monsoon type.

Fauna: Tigers, panthers, gaur, Chitals, blackbuck, giant squirrels, barking deers, chinkara, foxes, Jackals, wild boar etc.,

Indigenous inhabitants:

Madia, Mudia, Gurva, Agariya and Rajgond. Other tribes are Baigas, Kol, Kanwar and Pradhans

It’s a BSR and TR

Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary is located inside the sanctuary


Great Rann of Kachchh(GRK) (2008)


Area : 12454 (in km2)
Core: 4455 km2

NOT Part of WNBR

Part of Kachchh, Rajkot, Surendra Nagar and Patan Civil Districts of Gujarat State

Rivers: Luni, Rupen, West Banas drains into the area


mixed scrub, thorn, savannah type of vegetation, along with Sand resistant psammophytes and salinity tolerant halophytes exist here.

Mangroves in the eastern border of Banni grassland, inside the GRK a place locally known as Shrawan Kavadia

Climate: Arid, Desert like conditions

Fauna: Indian wild ass, Greater and Lesser Flamingos

Indigenous inhabitants:


1.Kachchh Desert Sanctuary

2.Wild Ass Sanctuary

Two major ecosystems: Great Rann of Kachchh (GRK) and Little Rann of Kachchh (LRK)


Cold Desert (2009)

Himachal Pradesh

Area : 7770 (in km2)

NOT Part of WNBR

Covers areas of Pin valley, Chandrabhaga, Spiti.


Alpine Vegetation

Flora: Herbs, shrub species

Climate: Cold, harsh climate with low mean annual rainfall-creating desert like conditions

Fauna: Tibetan gazzle, red fox, weasel, snow cock, snow leopard, ibex, marmot, griffon, golden eagle., etc

1. Pin Valley National Park

2. Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary

3. Chandratal Wildlife Santuary

4. Sarchu Wildlife Sanctuary


Seshachalam Hills


Area : 4756 (in km2)

NOT Part of WNBR

Chittoor and Kadapa districts of AP

Rivers : Kunderu

Vegetation: Both dry and Moist deciduous Type

Endemic Flora: Red Sanders

Climate: tropical Monsoon


Jungle cat, Great Mouse Deer, golden Gekos

Indigenous Tribes:


1. Sri Venkateswara National Park

2. Sri Venkateshwara wildlife Sanctuary




Area : 2999 (in km2)

Madhya Pradesh

(Part of Panna and Chhattarpur districts in Madhya Pradesh)

NOT Part of WNBR

Rivers: Ken


Tropical Dry Deciduous Teak Forest, Dry Deciduous Scrub Forest, Boswellia Forest, Dry Bamboo Grasses.

Panna represents the northern boundary of the natural distribution of teak, and the eastern limits of teak-kardhai mixed forests.

Climate: semi-Arid to Dry Sub-humid


Tiger, chinkara, , tree shrew, long snouted crocodile, mugger

Indigenous Tribes:

Raj Gond and Saur Gond

  1. Panna National Park/Panna Tiger Reserve
  2. Gangau Wildlife Sanctuary
  3. Ken-Gharial Wildlife sanctuary

Threats :

  • Intensive felling
  • Deforestation and consequent habitat destruction
  • Plantations (monoculture)
  • Grazing
  • Forest fires
  • Development and construction activity
  • Horticultural and agricultural practices
  • Tourism

1. Three of the following criteria have contributed to the recognition of Western Ghats-Sri Lanka and Indo-Burma regions as hotspots of biodiversity: (2011)

  1. Species richness
  2. Vegetation density
  3. Endemism
  4. Ethno-botanical importance
  5. Threat perception
  6. Adaptation of flora and fauna to warm and humid conditions

Which three of the above are correct criteria in this context?

  1. 1, 2 and 6
  2. 2, 4 and 6
  3. 1, 3 and 5
  4. 3, 4 and 6

Solution (c)

2. Two important rivers — one with its source in Jharkhand (and known by a different name in Odisha), and another, with its source in Odisha — merge at a place only a short distance from the coast of Bay of Bengal before flowing into the sea. This is an important site of wildlife and biodiversity and a protected area.

Which one of the following could be this?(2011)

  1. Bhitarkanika
  2. Chandipur-on-sea
  3. Gopalpur-on-sea
  4. Simlipal

Solution (a)

3. A sandy and saline area is the natural habitat of an Indian animal species. The animal has no predators in that area but its existence is threatened due to the destruction of its habitat. Which one of the following could be that animal? (2011)

  1. Indian wild buffalo
  2. Indian wild ass
  3. Indian wild boar
  4. Indian gazelle

Solution (b)

4. The Himalayan Range is very rich in species diversity. Which one among the following is the most appropriate reason for this phenomenon?(2011)

  1. It has a high rainfall that supports luxuriant vegetative growth
  2. It is a confluence of different bio-geographical zones
  3. Exotic and invasive species have not been introduced in this region
  4. It has less human interference

Solution (b)

5. Consider the following areas:(2012)

  1. Bandipur
  2. Bhitarkanika
  3. Manas
  4. Sunderbans

Which of the above are Tiger Reserves?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 1, 3 and 4 only
  3. 2, 3 and 4 only
  4. l, 2, 3 and 4

Solution (b)

6. Which one of the following groups of animals belongs to the category of endangered species?(2012)

  1. Great Indian Bustard, Musk Deer, Red Panda and Asiatic Wild Ass
  2. Kashmir Stag, Cheetal, Blue Bull and Great Indian Bustard
  3. Snow Leopard, Swamp Deer, Rhesus Monkey and Saras (Crane)
  4. Lion-tailed Macaque, Blue Bull, Hanuman Langur and Cheetal

Solution (a)

7. Consider the following : (2012)

  1. Black-necked crane
  2. Cheetah
  3. Flying squirrel
  4. Snow leopard

Which of the above are naturally found in India?

  1. 1, 2 and 3 only
  2. 1, 3 and 4 only
  3. 2 and 4 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

Solution (b)

Source: ENVIS portal

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