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Biosphere Reserve – Zones and Their Importance

Last Updated : 27 Feb, 2024
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Biosphere Reserves are protected areas that aim to conserve the biodiversity of a particular region while promoting sustainable development. The biosphere reserve zones are the core area, buffer zone, and transition zone. There are 18 biosphere reserves in India. Examples of biosphere reserves in the world are Guadalupe Island and Picos de Europa. The largest biosphere reserve in India is the Gulf of Kachchh, Gujarat.

These biosphere reserves are established to achieve a balance between conservation, research, and sustainable use of natural resources. They help in protecting the species, ecosystems, and genetic diversities. In this article, we will study the biosphere reserves definition, zones, and importance of biosphere reserves.

What is Biosphere Reserves?

The Biosphere Reserve definition states that it is a large protected area for the conservation of wildlife, plant and animal resources, and traditional tribal life in the area. Biosphere reserves are designated by UNESCO ( United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1971 as a part of the MAB Programme.

A biosphere reserve may also contain other protected areas. For example, the Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve contains one national park, Satpura, and two wildlife sanctuaries, Bori and Pachmarhi.

The government established rules, methods, and policies to protect and conserve biodiversity, as well as created protected areas such as wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, biosphere reserves, and so on. Plantation, cultivation, grazing, tree cutting, hunting, and poaching are all strictly prohibited. There are 18 biosphere reserves in India established by government to protect large areas of natural habitat.

Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme 

Man and Biosphere reserve programme have the following features:

  • The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme to protect and manage natural forest reserves around the world.
  • Certain areas with natural high forests are designated as natural biosphere reserves under this programme.
  • In these areas, free movement is restricted, and various scientific research programmes are carried out to learn about and understand the condition of the reserves’ rich flora and fauna.
  • The following are the goals of the Man and biosphere reserve programme:
  1. To promote the conservation of biodiversity
  2. Encourage sustainable development
  3. Allow interdisciplinary research and education in designated biosphere reserves.

Biosphere Reserve Zones

There are 3 biosphere reserve zones:

Zones of Biosphere Reserve

Core Zone

  • Human intervention is strictly prohibited to preserve the natural ecosystem and its biodiversity.
  • The data from these areas aids in determining the sustainability of activities and the preservation of environmental quality in the surrounding areas.
  • It aims to maintain the integrity of the ecosystem and protect endangered species and their habitats.

Buffer Zone 

  • The buffer zone is the area surrounding the core zone.
  • Humans are permitted to conduct only research and education related work. These activities should not interfere with the core area’s conservation goals.
  • Recreation and tourism facilities may also be included in this zone. In this zone, human activities are less intense than in the transition zone.
  • This category also includes activities that aid in the management of natural vegetation, agricultural land, fisheries, or forests in order to improve production quality.

Transition Zone

  • It is a biosphere reserve’s periphery where human activities such as cropping, recreation, forestry, and settlements are permitted with the cooperation of reserve management and local people.
  • The degraded area is returned to its natural state as a result of these activities.
  • Local communities, scientists, conservation organisations, cultural groups, and other stakeholders work in this zone to use the area in a sustainable manner for the benefit of the humans who live there.

Biosphere Reserves in India

The list of biosphere reserves are as follows:

Biosphere Reserve States
Nilgiri (1986) Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka
Nanda Devi (1998) Uttarakhand
Nokrek (1988) Meghalaya
Gulf of Mannar (1989) Tamil Nadu
Dibru-Saikhowa – 1997 Assam
Simlipal (1994) Orissa

Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve (2001)

West Bengal

Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve(2009) Himachal Pradesh
Seshachalam Hills  (2010)  Andhra Pradesh’s

Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve (2012)

Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh

Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve (2013)

Great Nicobar

Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve (2016)

Kerala and Tamil Nadu

Khangchendzonga National Park (2018)


Importance of Biosphere

The importance of biosphere reserves are as follows:

  • Conservation: Preservation of species, ecosystems, genetic diversity, and landscapes without affecting the living beings that inhabit them.
  • Climate Regulation: They contribute to climate regulation through processes like carbon sequestration and help mitigate the impacts of climate change.
  • Development: Associating with the reserves will result in overall economic, cultural, and social growth.
  • Restoration: Any damaged ecosystems and habitats are repaired properly.
  • Land Use Planning: Various groups of people work together to find comprehensive land management solutions.
  • Healthy Ecosystems: Natural problems such as soil erosion, water springs, and soil quality should be monitored and protected on a regular basis.
  • Natural Resource Sustainability: Biospheres promote sustainable use of natural resources, ensuring that human activities do not deplete essential ecological components.
  • Education and Research: Information about conserving, restoring, and developing ecosystems is provided, as well as steps to recreate landscapes affected by human activities

Conclusion – Biosphere Reserves

Biosphere reserves play a crucial role in conserving biodiversity and promoting sustainable development. The biosphere reserves in world serve as living laboratories for scientific research, education hubs for raising awareness about environmental conservation, and models for balancing human needs with nature. There are 3 biosphere reserves zones. By preserving ecosystems and maintaing harmony between humans and the environment, biosphere reserves contribute significantly to the well-being of both present and future generations.

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FAQs on Biosphere Reserve

What is a Biosphere Reserve?

Biosphere reserves are the reserved area for the conservation of plants and animals by government. It help in conserving the biodiversity of the area.

What is the Functions of Biosphere?

The function of biosphere is to protect genetic resources, species, ecosystems, and landscapes. They contribute to climate regulation through processes like carbon sequestration, helping mitigate the impacts of climate change.

What are the Biosphere Reserve Zones?

he biosphere reserve structure consists of a core area for strictly protected ecosystems, a buffer zone allowing activities like research and education, and a transition zone permitting human activities.

What are the Characteristics of the Biosphere Reserves?

Biosphere reserves are characterized by a strictly protected core zone, a buffer zone allowing for sustainable human activities, and a transition zone supporting community involvement in conservation and development.

What are the Importance of Biosphere Reserves in India?

Biosphere reserves in India are important for conserving the country’s rich biodiversity, safeguarding endangered species and ecosystems, while also promoting sustainable development practices that benefit local communities.

How Many Biosphere Reserves are there in India?

India has 18 biosphere reserves. The largest biosphere reserve in India is the Gulf of Kachchh, Gujarat.

Which is the First Biosphere Reserves in India?

The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, established in 1986, is the first biosphere reserve in India, located in parts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka.

What is the Difference Between Biosphere Reserves and National Parks?

Biosphere reserves focus on conserving biodiversity while promoting sustainable development, including human habitation, research, and education, whereas national parks primarily aim to conserve natural ecosystems and wildlife with restricted human activity.

What is the Difference Between Wildlife Sanctuaries and Biosphere Reserves?

Wildlife sanctuaries protect specific animal species, while biosphere reserves has a broader conservation goals, including biodiversity, sustainable development, research, and education.

Which is the First Biosphere Reserve in the World?

The first biosphere reserve in the world is the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, located in Mexico.

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