19 new Biosphere Reserves added to UNECO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) NetworkNineteen new sites in 13 countries have been added to UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The World Network of Biosphere Reserves now consists of 459 sites in 97 countries. One extension and one change in the borders of an existing biosphere reserves have also been approved, illustrating the vitality of the network to continuously improve existing sites.
Taza Biosphere Reserve (Algeria) , characterized by spectacular cliffs, beaches, mountains and valleys. It is home to a threatened species of monkey. Tremendous tourism opportunities abound, and are part of the overall strategy to improve the local economy in harmony with the natural environment.
The additions and changes to the biosphere network were approved by the International Co-ordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme at its 18th session, October 25 – 29, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The MAB Programme has been pioneering a scientific basis for sustainable development for over 30 years.
Biosphere reserves are places recognized by MAB where local communities are actively involved in governance and management, research, education, training and monitoring at the service of both socio-economic development and biodiversity conservation. The following sites have been designated or extended:
Gouraya Biosphere Reserve (Algeria) includes picturesque coastal and inland landscapes and a diversity of ecosystems. It is an ideal destination for ecotourism destination, and agricultural development for local communities is also envisioned.
Pribuzhskoye-Polesie Biosphere Reserve (Belarus) lies in the vast wetland transborder region of Polesie, encompassing diverse natural and cultural communities. It features pine forests, bogs, meadows and extremely rare floodplain forests. It complements the adjacent West Polesie Biosphere Reserve in Poland and the Shatsky Biosphere Reserve in Ukraine. The two may come to form the basis of a trilateral transboundary biosphere reserve for the Polesie region in the future.
Georgian Bay Littoral Biosphere Reserve (Canada), which encompasses the eastern part of Lake Huron, includes the headwaters of the St. Lawrence River and has one of the largest fresh water archipelagos in the world. The result of an extraordinary collaboration between native communities, local inhabitants, a consortium, which includes, among other, local business interests and regional and local authorities, it represents a common vision of sustainable development and environmental and cultural conservation.
Foping Biosphere Reserve (China), one of the three major habitats of the giant panda in the country, also abounds with important medicinal plant species, and has significant potential for ecotourism and scientific research.
Qomolangma Biosphere Reserve (China), constituting the Chinese region of the Himalayas that includes the world’s tallest mountain, Mount Everest (from which the Chinese name “Qomalangma” is taken), features extremely rare alpine ecosystems and the rich history and culture of Tibet.
Wadden Sea of Schleswig Holstein Biosphere Reserve -- extension (Germany), established as a Biosphere Reserve in 1990 and comprising a national park and Ramsar International Wetland of Importance, is now expanded to meet the 1995 biosphere reserve criteria developed in Seville. This extension, spurred at the initiative of the communities of the Hallig Islands, forms a transition zone where a regional identity – in the form of local products and services – can be fostered.
Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (India), in the Himalayan Mountains in the northern part of the country, includes as core zones the Nanda Devi National Park/World Heritage site and the Valley of the Flowers National Park. Local communities in the Lata-Tolma-Malari and Pindari areas are benefiting from the development of alternative sources of income, such as ecotourism, and from the improvement of a rich variety of agricultural activities.
Selva Pisana Biosphere Reserve (Italy) , a coastal area in western Italy, connects the Migliarino-San Rossore-Massaciuccoli Regional Park with the urban planning process and socio-economic development of the Municipality of Pisa. It focuses on sustainable agriculture, forestry, tourism, maintenance of ecosystem, and a practical experiment in reducing the “ecological footprint” of the area.
Mount Kuwol Biosphere Reserve (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) , situated on the West Sea of Korea, it features a rich cultural and historic heritage dating back to the origins of Buddhism and Korean culture. The site, which is also an important rice growing area, serves to balance conservation of essential ecological and hydrological functions with sustainable food production.
Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserve and Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve (Mexico) encompass coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula. They include important wetlands designated under the Ramsar Wetlands Convention. These two sites may be joined together in the future to promote the rational use of natural resources in the wider region.
Kedrovaya Pad Biosphere Reserve (Russian Federation) , on the Pacific coast of the country, serves to protect endangered species such as the Far East Leopard by enhancing and integrating conservation efforts and sustainable income generation opportunities.
Kenozerskiy Biosphere Reserve (Russian Federation) , in the northwest of the country includes virgin taiga forest ecosystems and a buffer zone where sustainable forestry techniques are practiced. It also has a transition zone whose activities include tourism and traditional trades and crafts, which are being revived. The site is a globally important migratory bird habitat, and contains unique swamp and forest ecosystems.
Valdaisky Biosphere Reserve (Russian Federation) is located in the Valdai Highlands, in the northwest of the country. Created around a national park, it will focus on providing new employment opportunities to the region while encouraging environmentally friendly natural resource use.
The Karst Biosphere Reserve, (Slovenia) , has as its core area the Skocjan caves, which are designated both as a World Heritage site and a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. The Biosphere Reserve seeks to integrate and coordinate sustainable agricultural practices with the preservation of caves and local hydrological processes, controlling surface and subsurface pollution from fertilizers and waste-water.
Babia Biosphere Reserve Unit, Gran Reserva de Biosfera Cantabrica, (Spain) , located in the Castilla y León Autonomous Region of Northern Spain is an additional component of the multi-unit Biosphere Reserve extending across the Cordillera Cantabrica Mountains.
Kanneliya-Dediyagala-Nakiyadeniya (KDN) Biosphere Reserve (Sri Lanka) , which covers lowland and mountain tropical forests, encompasses an important watershed which feeds numerous rivers and streams, which in turn are vital to agriculture and energy production in the region.
Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve (Vietnam) , an archipelago in the north of Vietnam, which is adjacent to the Ha Long Bay World Heritage site, is home to the threatened endemic monkey species, the golden-headed Langur. A major coastal fishing zone, the area has tremendous potential in agri- and aqua-culture as well as other development opportunities.
Red River Delta Biosphere Reserve (Vietnam) , also located in the northern part of the country, includes a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in the core area. It contains valuable mangrove habitats and serves as a demonstration area for sustainable fishery systems.
The change in zonation concerned the Menorca Biosphere Reserve (Spain) , where the original core area was expanded, to increase its marine zone.
The MAB Council also examined the case of the Dunaisky Biosphere Reserve in Ukraine, part of the Danube Delta Transboundary Biosphere Reserve with Romania, in which construction of a navigation canal to the Black Sea has been the cause of controversy. The Bureau expressed concern over the way in which the zones have been changed without local, national or international consultations, and encouraged the Ukrainian authorities to increase bilateral discussions with Romania, its partner in the transboundary biosphere reserve. The MAB Bureau is to make a decision on this issue after November 20, when Ukraine will have submitted its official final zoning for the Biosphere Reserve.