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Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) is an intergovernmental scientific program, launched in 1971 by UNESCO, that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments.
MAB's work engages fully with the international development agenda—specially with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Post 2015 Development Agenda—and addresses challenges linked to scientific, environmental, societal and development issues in diverse ecosystems; from mountain regions to marine, coastal and island areas; from tropical forests to dry lands and urban areas. MAB combines the natural and social sciences, economics and education to improve human livelihoods and the equitable sharing of benefits, and to safeguard natural and managed ecosystems, thus promoting innovative approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate, and environmentally sustainable.
The MAB program provides a unique platform for cooperation on research and development, capacity-building and networking to share information, knowledge and experience on three interlinked issues: biodiversity loss, climate change and sustainable development. It contributes not only to better understanding of the environment, but also promotes greater involvement of science and scientists in policy development concerning the wise use of biological diversity.
As of January 2021 [update] , 714 biosphere reserves in 129 countries, including 21 transboundary sites, have been included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
Biosphere reserves are areas comprising terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each reserve promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments and remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located. Their status is internationally recognized.
Biosphere reserves are ‘Science for Sustainability support sites’ – special places for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity.
Biosphere reserves have three interrelated zones that aim to fulfill three complementary and mutually reinforcing functions:
In 1996, the IUCN and MAB published a guideline for how to assess UNESCO biosphere reserves in the IUCN classification system. For that to work, the IUCN distinguish between the biosphere core, buffer, and transition zones, and also between each individual biosphere reserve. The most important feature for the assessment is the biosphere's management objective. Given that one of the main objectives of biospheres are scientific work, generally speaking, this would put biosphere core zones in the IUCN category I; either Ia (strict nature reserve) or Ib (wilderness area). Biosphere buffer zones would fall in category IV, V or VI and transition zones would be categorized as either V or VI if at all possible.
UNESCO’s intergovernmental structure provides MAB with a framework to help national governments support the planning and implementation of research and training programmes with technical assistance and scientific advice.
Participating countries establish MAB National Committees that ensure maximum national participation in the international programme, defining and implementing each country’s activities. MAB currently operates through 158 National Committees established among the 195 Members States and nine Associate Members States of UNESCO.
The agenda of the MAB Programme is defined by its main governing body, the International Coordinating Council. The MAB Council consists of 34 member states elected by UNESCO’s General Conference. The council elects a chair and five vice-chairpersons from each of UNESCO’s geopolitical regions, one of which functions as a rapporteur. These constitute the MAB Bureau.
The MAB Secretariat is based at UNESCO’s Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences, at UNESCO's headquarter in Paris, and works closely with the different field offices around the world to coordinate the work of the MAB Programme at national and regional levels. Its staff members draw on expertise in many and varied disciplines. MAB is funded through the regular budget of UNESCO and mobilizes funds in-trust granted by Member States, bilateral and multilateral sources, and extra-budgetary funds provided by countries, the private sector and private institutions. MAB-related activities are nationally financed. The programme can grant seed funding to assist countries in developing projects and/or to secure appropriate partnership contributions.
The latest World Congress of Biosphere Reserves took place in Lima, Peru, from 14 to 17 March 2016. This will be the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves and it shall develop a new vision for the decade 2016–2025.
The World Network of Biosphere Reserves is supported by different regional, sub-regional or thematic networks. These are as follows:
The UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) covers internationally designated protected areas, each known as biosphere reserves, that are meant to demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature. They are created under the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB).
A biodiversity action plan (BAP) is an internationally recognized program addressing threatened species and habitats and is designed to protect and restore biological systems. The original impetus for these plans derives from the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). As of 2009, 191 countries have ratified the CBD, but only a fraction of these have developed substantive BAP documents.
India is home to a large variety of wildlife. It is a biodiversity hotspot with its various ecosystems ranging from the Himalayas in the north to the evergreen rain forests in the south, the desert sands of the west to the marshy mangroves of the east. India lies within the Indomalayan realm and is the home to about 7.6% of mammal, 14.7% of amphibian, 6% of bird, 6.2% of reptilian, and 6.0% of flowering plant species. India's forest lands nurture about 500 species of mammals and 2000+ bird species.
The Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve is located in the extreme south of Chile and comprises marine areas, islands, fjords, channels, forests and moorland. It covers an area of approximately 49,000 km2 (19,000 sq mi). All biosphere reserves include core zones, buffer zones and transition zones. In the case of Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve, the core zone is constituted of Alberto de Agostini National Park and Cabo de Hornos National Park, which are strictly protected under Chilean law and under the biosphere reserve status cannot have infrastructure for lodging.
Protected areas of Sri Lanka are administrated by Department of Forest Conservation and Department of Wildlife Conservation of Sri Lanka.There are 501 protected areas in Sri Lanka. The protected areas that fall under supervision of the Department of Forest Conservation include forests defined in National Heritage Wilderness Area Act in 1988, forest reservations, and forests managed for sustainability. Sinharaja Forest Reserve is an example for a National Heritage forest. There are 32 forests categorized as conservation forests including Knuckles Mountain Range. Strict nature reserves, national parks, nature reserves, forest corridors, and sanctuaries recognized under the Flora and Fauna Protection Ordinance are managed by Department of Wildlife Conservation. Total of all protected areas is 1,767,000 ha. Protected areas in Sri Lanka account for 26.5 percent of the total area. This is a higher percentage of protected areas than in all of Asia and much of the World.
The Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region is a biosphere reserve situated in the north eastern region of South Africa, straddling Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces. In 2001, under the supervision of the then Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region was officially ratified by UNESCO as part of the Man and the Biosphere (MaB) Programme. UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme provides a framework for exploring local solutions to challenges by mainstreaming biodiversity conservation and sustainable development, integrating economic, social and environmental aspects and recognizing their vital linkages within specific learning landscapes adjacent to Protected Areas.
The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) is the largest assembly of data on the world's terrestrial and marine protected areas, containing more than 260,000 protected areas as of August 2020, with records covering 245 countries and territories throughout the world. The WDPA is a joint venture between the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre and the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Commission on Protected Areas.
Cu Lao Cham Marine Park also known as Cham Islands Biosphere Reserve is part of the eight islets of the Chàm Islands, located in the South China Sea under the administration of Tân Hiệp Commune and Hội An town, in Quảng Nam Province, Vietnam. The terrestrial and coastal ecosystems of the islands have been recognized as a global Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO on 26 May 2009 under its 'Man and the Biosphere Programme' for its rich biodiversity value. The eco system also includes the ancient Hội An, which is 20 kilometres (12 mi) away from the islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Fundy Biosphere Reserve is a biosphere reserve next to the upper Bay of Fundy, covering 442,250 hectares in New Brunswick, Canada. The area was designated as such by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2007.
Biosphere reserves are established according to the UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) to promote sustainable development for conservation of biological and cultural diversity. As of 2016, the Lal Suhanra Biosphere Reserve and Ziarat Juniper Forest are the only two biosphere reserve in Pakistan, which were approved by UNESCO in 1977 and 2013 respectively. A number of initiatives and projects have been undertaken to promote and develop other biosphere reserves in Pakistan but due to weak implementation this has not yet been materialized. In July 2012, Pakistan Museum of Natural History and Beijing Museum of Natural History signed a MoU to work on trans-boundary biodiversity and to improve MAB related activities in the Karakoram, Himalaya, and Hindukush regions.
The Krkonose / Karkonosze is a MAB transboundary biosphere reserve, mixed mountain and highland system designated by UNESCO as Krkonose / Karkonosze Mountains in 1992. It is shared by the Czech Republic and Poland. Notably, it is one of only two successful transboundary management structures in existence, aside from the East Carpathians Biosphere Reserve, due to contrasting goals in other shared areas covered by MAB.
The Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve located in southeastern Ontario, Canada. The biosphere reserve was designated in 2002, and is one of 16 biosphere reserves in Canada. The Frontenac Arch Biosphere operates primarily within a 2,700 km2. region from Brockville to Kingston, extending north to Verona and Perth.
Biosphere reserves are areas comprising terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. The biosphere reserve title is handed over by UNESCO. Each reserve promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. Biosphere reserves are 'Science for Sustainability support sites' – special places for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity. Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments and remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located. Their status is internationally recognized.
Mongol Daguur Biosphere Reserve is a nature reserve in the Dornod Aimag (Province) in eastern Mongolia, preserved as an example of one of the largest areas of intact grassland in the world. It covers 8,429,072 hectares and was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2005. Together with Ugtam Nature refuge and Daursky Nature Reserve in Russia it constitutes a World Heritage Site named "The Landscapes of Dauria".
An environmental protection area is a type of protected area in Brazil that has some degree of human occupation, but where the primary intent is environmental protection. Human occupation is monitored and controlled. An environmental protection area often contains other types of conservation units, which may be more strictly protected.
The Yayu Coffee Forest Biosphere Reserve is situated in Ilu Abba Bora Zone of the Oromia Regional State, southwestern Ethiopia.
The Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve is located in the Western Cape Province of South Africa approximately 40 km east of Cape Town. The Biosphere Reserve extends from the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve in the south, northwards along the Cape Fold Belt Mountain Chain and the adjoining valleys constituting the Cape Winelands. The Biosphere Reserve incorporates key portions of the registered Cape Floral Region Protected Areas World Heritage Site. The Reserve was designated in 2007.
The Ciénaga de Zapata Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve situated on the southern coast of Cuba at Matanzas province. The 628,171 hectares (2,425.38 sq mi) reserve encompasses the Zapata Swamp and is one of the largest and most important wetlands in the Caribbean region with a marine southern borderline. Ciénaga de Zapata was designated a Ramsar site in 2001. This area is a cluster biosphere reserve with several core areas, highly valuable for conservation located in the Ciénaga de Zapata National Park.
The Atlantic Forest Biosphere Reserve, or Mata Atlântica Biosphere Reserve is a biosphere reserve covering remnants of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil, including fully protected and sustainable use conservation units and buffer zones. It is the largest such reserve in the world.