Biosphere Reserves (BRs) are representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes extending over large area of terrestrial or coastal/marine ecosystems or a combination thereof and representative examples of bio-geographic zones/provinces.
Criteria for designation of BR
- A site that must contain an effectively protected and minimally disturbed core area of value of nature conservation.
- The core area should be typical of a biogeographical unit and large enough to sustain viable populations representing all trophic levels in the ecosystem.
- The management authority to ensure the involvement/cooperation of local communities to bring a variety of knowledge and experiences to link biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development while managing and containing the conflicts.
- Areas potential for preservation of traditional tribal or rural modes of living for the harmonious use of the environment.
The Indian government has established 18 Biosphere Reserves in India, which protects larger areas of natural habitat (than a National Park or Animal Sanctuary), and often include one or more National Parks and/or preserves, along with buffer zones that are open to some economic uses. Protection is granted not only to the flora and fauna of the poached hereon protected region, but also to the human communities who inhabit these regions, and their ways of life. Animals are protected and saved here.
The UNESCO has introduced the designation ‘Biosphere Reserve’ for natural areas to minimise conflict between development and conservation. BRs are nominated by national government which meets a minimal set of criteria and adheres to a minimal set of conditions for inclusion in the world network of Biosphere reserves under the Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme of UNESCO.
Biosphere reserves are demarcated into following 3 inter-related zones:
Core zone must contain suitable habitat for numerous plant and animal species, including higher order predators and may contain centers 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. Whilst realising that perturbation is an ingredient of ecosystem functioning, the core zone is to be kept free from l human pressures external to the system.
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.
The transition area is the outermost part of a biosphere reserve. This is usually not delimited one and is a zone of cooperation where conservation knowledge and management skills are applied and uses are managed in harmony with the purpose of the biosphere reserve. This includes settlements, croplands, managed forests and area for intensive recreation and other economic uses characteristics of the region.
Ten of the eighteen biosphere reserves in India are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme list.
All biosphere reserves in India