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Biosphere Reserve

Biosphere Reserves in India are defined as the widespread areas of biodiversity in which flora and fauna are protected....

Biosphere Reserves in India are defined as the widespread areas of biodiversity in which flora and fauna are protected.

What is Biosphere Reserve?

‘Biosphere’ refers to water, land, and atmosphere that supply life on our planet. The word ‘reserve’ symbolizes that it is a special area designated for creating a balance between conservation and sustainable use.

  • Biosphere reserves are a great example of community-based initiatives aimed towards the protection of our natural environment while also ensuring consistent healthy growth of the local economy.
  • The biosphere reserve network was launched in 1971 by UNESCO, two years after the initiation of MAB- Man and the biosphere program.
  • As per the law, these regions of environmental protection related to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Category V Protected areas.
  • Biosphere Reserve (BR) is an international designation by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes extending over large areas of terrestrial or coastal/marine ecosystems or a combination of both.

Criteria for Designation of Biosphere Reserve

  • A site must contain a protected and minimally disturbed core area of value of nature conservation.
  • Core area must be a bio-geographical unit and should be large enough to sustain a viable populations representing all trophic levels.
  • The involvement of local communities and use of their knowledge in biodiversity preservation.
  • Areas potential for preservation of traditional tribal or rural modes of living for harmonious use of the environment.

Structure of Biosphere Reserve

  • Core Areas:
    • It is the most protected area of a biosphere reserve. It may contain endemic plants and animals.
    • They conserve the wild relatives of economic species and also represent important genetic reservoirs having exceptional scientific interest.
    • A core zone is a protected region, like a National Park or Sanctuary/protected/regulated mostly under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972It is kept free from human interference.
  • Buffer Zone:
    • The buffer zone surrounds the core zone and its activities are managed in this area in the 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.

Functions of Biosphere Reserve

  • Conservation:
    • Managing Biosphere Reserve’s genetic resources, endemic species, ecosystems, and landscapes.
    • It may prevent man-animal conflict eg. death of tiger Avni who was shot dead when she turned man-eater
    • Along with the wildlife, culture and customs of tribals are also protected
  • Development:
    • Promoting economic and human growth that is sustainable on a sociocultural and ecological level. It seeks to strengthen the three pillars of sustainable development: social, economic, and protection of the environment.
  • Logistic support:
    • Promoting research activities, environmental education, training, and monitoring in the context of local, national, and international conservation and sustainable development.

Read also: National Parks in India

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