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Biosphere Reserve – Definition, Structure, Importance, FAQs

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Biosphere reserves are protected area which majorly aims to conserve biodiversity while promoting sustainable development. Biosphere reserves are designated by UNESCO ( United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1971 as a part of the MAB Programme. Biosphere reserves are designated areas that have been identified as representative of the earth’s major ecological regions and where sustainable development can be demonstrated

What is the Biosphere Reserve?

The Biosphere Reserve is a large protected area for the conservation of wildlife, plant and animal resources, and traditional tribal life in the area. A biosphere reserve contributes to the preservation of a region’s biodiversity and culture. 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.

In India, the government has established 18 Biosphere Reserves to protect large areas of natural habitat. These areas are provided with buffer zones that are open to certain economic uses. Not only are the flora and fauna protected, but so are the people who live in these areas. The Man and Biosphere Reserve Program identify Biosphere Reserves to promote sustainable development. UNESCO launched this programme in 1971.

This programme recognises the following areas:

  • This demonstrates the achievement of a sustainable balance between natural ecosystem conservation and biodiversity.
  • The most common terrestrial and coastal ecosystems on the planet.
  • That exhibit takes a live approach and works in harmony with nature.

Importance of Biosphere

The following is the importance of biosphere reserves are:

  • 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.
  • Conservation: Preservation of species, ecosystems, genetic diversity, and landscapes without affecting the living beings that inhabit them.
  • Healthy Ecosystems: Natural problems such as soil erosion, water springs, and soil quality should be monitored and protected on a regular basis.
  • Education and Research: Information about conserving, restoring, and developing ecosystems is provided, as well as steps to recreate landscapes affected by human activities.

Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme 

  • 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:
  • Keep representative ecosystem samples.
  • Encourage infer national cooperation.
  • Long-term in-situ genetic diversity conservation.
  • Provide appropriate long-term management of living resources.
  • Make educational and training opportunities available.

Zones of Biosphere Reserve

The biosphere reserve is differentiated into 3 zones, those are:

Zones of Biosphere Reserve


Core Zone

  • Human intervention is strictly prohibited in this legally protected area.
  • The data from these areas aids in determining the sustainability of activities and the preservation of environmental quality in the surrounding areas.
  • It is the most pristine ecosystem on the planet.

Buffer Zone 

  • The buffer zone is the area surrounding the core zone.
  • Humans are only permitted to conduct research and education here. 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.

Manipulation 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

Biosphere Reserve States Important Places
Nilgiri (1986) Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka Silent Valley, Siruvani Hills, Bandipur and Madumalai, Nagarhole, Bandipur, and Wayanad
Nanda Devi (1998) Uttarakhand Part of the Chamoli, Pithoragarh, and Bageshwar districts
Nokrek (1988) Meghalaya A section of the Garo Hills
Great Nicobar, (1989)  A&N Islands Southernmost islands of Andaman and Nicobar
Gulf of Mannar (1989) Tamil Nadu India and Sri Lanka’s portion of the Gulf of Mannar
Dibru-Saikhowa – 1997 Assam  A portion of the districts of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia
Simlipal (1994) Orissa A district in Simlipal
Cold Desert – (2009) Himachal Pradesh Chandratal, Sarchu, and Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary
Seshachalam Hills  (2010)  Andhra Pradesh’s Seshachalam Hill Ranges are located in areas of Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor and Kadapa districts.

FAQs on Biosphere Reserve

Q1: What is a biosphere reserve?


Biosphere reserves are the reserved area for the conservation of plants and animals by government.

Q2: What are the functions of biosphere reserves?


  • The function of conservation: is to protect genetic resources, species, ecosystems, and landscapes.
  • Logistic support function: to provide assistance with conservation and sustainable development research and analysis.
  • The development function promotes long-term human and economic development.

Q3: What exactly are biosphere reserves?


  • The biosphere reserves protect an area’s biological diversity.
  • Biosphere reserves are large areas of protected land dedicated to the preservation of wild animals and plants.
  • It is also intended to restore the traditional way of life of the tribals who live in the area.

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Last Updated : 04 May, 2023
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