Define Biosphere Reserve (BR).Explain its Structure and List out the Biosphere Reserves in India recognized by UNESCO.

Biosphere Reserve (BR)

  • Biosphere Reserve (BR) is an international designation by UNESCO for representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes extending over large area of terrestrial or coastal/marine ecosystems or a combination thereof.
  • BRs are designated to deal with one of the most important questions of reconciling the conservation of biodiversity, the quest for economic and social development and maintenance of associated cultural values.

Structure and functions of BR

Biosphere reserves are demarcated into following 3 inter-related zones:

Core Zone: 

  • The core zone must contain suitable habitats for numerous plant and animal species, including higher-order predators and may contain centres of endemism.
  • Core areas often conserve the wild relatives of economic species and also represent important genetic reservoirs having exceptional scientific interest.
  • A core zone being National Park or Sanctuary/protected/regulated mostly under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Buffer Zone: 

  • The buffer zone, adjoins or surrounds core zone, uses and activities are managed in this area in the ways that help in protection of core zone in its natural condition.
  • These uses and activities include restoration, demonstration sites for enhancing value addition to the resources, limited recreation, tourism, fishing, grazing, etc; which are permitted to reduce its effect on core zone.
  • Research and educational activities are to be encouraged. Human activities, if natural within BR, are likely to continue if these do not adversely affect the ecological diversity.

Transition Zone: 

  • The transition area is the outermost part of a biosphere reserve.
  • This includes settlements, crop lands, managed forests and area for intensive recreation and other economic uses characteristics of the region.

International Status of Biosphere Reserves (BR)

  • The UNESCO has introduced the designation ‘Biosphere Reserve’ for natural areas to minimize conflict between development and conservation.
  • BRs are nominated by national government which meet a minimal set of criteria and adhere to minimal set of conditions for inclusion in the world network of Biosphere reserves under the Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme of UNESCO.
  • India has 12 internationally recognised BRs. They are as follows.
  1. Nilgiri
  2. Gulf of Mannar
  3. Sunderban
  4. Nanda Devi
  5. Nokrek
  6. Pachmarhi
  7. Similipal
  8. Achanakmar-Amarkantak
  9. Great Nicobar
  10. Agasthyamala
  11. Khangchendzonga
  12. Panna
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