World’s Biosphere Footprint

  • IASbaba
  • November 5, 2022
  • 0
Economics, Environment & Ecology
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Context: Since from 2022, November 3 is celebrated as  ‘The International Day for Biosphere Reserves’.

About World Network of Biosphere Reserves:

  • The UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) was formed in 1971.
  • WNBR covers internationally designated protected areas, known as biosphere reserves, which are meant to demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature (e.g., encourage sustainable development).
  • They are created under the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB).
  • All biosphere reserves are internationally recognised sites on land, at the coast, or in the oceans.
  • There are 738 biosphere reserves in 134 countries, including 22 transboundary sites. They are distributed as follows:
    • 90 sites in 33 countries in Africa
    • 36 sites in 14 countries in the Arab States
    • 172 sites in 24 countries in Asia and the Pacific
    • 308 sites in 41 countries in Europe and North America
    • 132 sites in 22 countries Latin America and the Caribbean.

Nomination & approval of biosphere reserves:

  • Governments alone decide which areas to nominate.
  • Before approval by UNESCO, the sites are externally examined.
  • If approved, they will be managed based on a plan, reinforced by credibility checks while remaining under the sovereignty of their national government.

Functions of Biosphere Reserves:

  • Biosphere Reserves involve local communities and all interested stakeholders in planning and management. They integrate three main “functions”:
  • Conservation of biodiversity and cultural diversity
  • Economic development that is socio-culturally and environmentally sustainable
  • Logistic support, underpinning development through research, monitoring, education and training.

Structure of Biosphere Reserve:

They are demarcated into the following 3 interrelated zones:

Core Zone:

  • Includes protected areas, as they act as reference points on the natural state of the ecosystems represented by the biosphere reserves. Have endemic species of plants & animals.
  • A core zone is a protected region, like a National Park or Sanctuary/protected/regulated mostly under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • It is kept free from human interference.

Buffer Zone:

  • The buffer zone surrounds the core zone and its activities are managed in this area in ways that help in the protection of the core zone in its natural condition.
  • It includes restoration, limited tourism, fishing, grazing, etc; which are permitted to reduce its effect on the core zone.
  • Research and educational activities are to be encouraged.

Transition Zone:

  • It is the outermost part of the biosphere reserve. It is the zone of cooperation where human ventures and conservation are done in harmony.
  • It includes settlements, croplands, managed forests and areas for intensive recreation and other economic uses characteristics of the region.

Biosphere Reserves in India:

Need for expansion:

  • According to the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released in 2019 by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the main global drivers of biodiversity loss are:
    • Climate change,
    • Invasive species,
    • Over-exploitation of natural resources,
    • Pollution and
  • The ecological carrying capacity of planet earth has largely been exceeded because of our collective excesses.
  • Therefore, the need was felt 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 without critically affecting nature’s balance.

Way Forward:

  • The ‘South and Central Asia MAB Reserve’ Networking Meeting (where MAB stands Man and the Biosphere) is planned for 2023, to advance biosphere reserve establishment and management.
  • In addition, an expert mission has been planned for spring 2023 — to Bhutan, India’s north-east and the Sundarbans in Bangladesh.

With at least one biosphere reserve per country in Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal until 2025 (with additional biosphere reserves in India’s North-East and along the coasts) it will give realisation to millions of people that a better future is truly possible — one where we will truly live in harmony with nature.

Source: The Hindu


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