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Biosphere Reserves In India

Since the past few years, the topic of Biosphere Reserves in India has gained considerable importance for the UPSC CSEs. In this...

Greeta Sulochana Written by Greeta Sulochana · 5 min read >
BIOSPHERE RESERVES IN INDIA

Since the past few years, the topic of Biosphere Reserves in India has gained considerable importance for the UPSC CSEs. In this article, we will understand in detail the crucial features of Biosphere reserves in India.

As per the Indian government records there are 18 Biosphere Reserves of India, which often includes National Parks or sanctuaries.

11 Biosphere Reserves of India are a part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, based on the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme list.

Let’s first know…

What is a Biosphere Reserve?

There are living organisms all around us and we must make a conscious effort to preserve as well as conserve this biodiversity in our environment.

Simply put, Biosphere Reserves can be defined as widespread areas of bio-diversity wherein fauna and flora are protected.

‘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.

You must not misinterpret the word ‘reserve’ to be a place that is set aside from human use and development. A biosphere reserve program also aims at studying human interaction with a particular area.

Biosphere reserves are a great example of community-based initiatives aimed towards the protection of our natural environment while also ensuring a consistent healthy growth of the local economy.

It can include one or more National Parks or sanctuaries. Protection is granted to all the living organisms flourishing inside the boundaries of the reserve, including flora, fauna as well as the human communities who inhabit those regions.

As per the law, these regions of environmental protection relate to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Category V Protected areas.

List of Biosphere Reserves of India

As per the updated records of the government of India, there is a total of 18 biosphere reserves in our country.

  1. Nilgiri

    Designated as a biosphere reserve in the year 1986, Nilgiri falls within the state boundaries of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, along the western ghats. The key fauna of the Nilgiris is the Lion-tailed Macaque and Nilgiri Tahr.

  2. Nanda Devi

    Designated as a biosphere reserve in the year 1988, Nanda Devi falls within the state boundaries of Uttarakhand, along the western himalayas.

  3. Nokrek

    Designated as a biosphere reserve in the year 1988, Nokrek falls within the state boundaries of Meghalaya, along the east himalayas. The key fauna of the Nokrek is the Red Panda.

  4. The Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve

    Designated as a biosphere reserve in the year 1989, Great Nicobar falls within the boundaries of the Andaman and Nicobar islands. The key fauna of the Great Nicobar is the Saltwater crocodile.

  5. Gulf Of Mannar

    Designated as a biosphere reserve in the year 1989, Gulf of Mannar falls within the state boundaries of Tamil Nadu. The key fauna of this coast is the dugong.

  6. Sunderbans

    Designated as a biosphere reserve in the year 1989, Sunderbans falls within the state boundaries of West Bengal, along the gangetic delta. The key fauna of the Sunderbans is the royal Bengal tiger.

  7. Manas

    Designated as a biosphere reserve in the year 1989, Manas falls within the state boundaries of Assam, along the east himalayas. The key fauna of Manas are the red panda and the golden langur.

  8. Simlipal

    Designated as a biosphere reserve in the year 1994, Simlipal falls within the state boundaries of Odisha, along the deccan peninsula. The key fauna are royal Bengal tiger and wild tiger.

  9. Dibru-saikhowa

    Designated as a biosphere reserve in the year 1997, Dibru-saikhowa falls within the state boundaries of Assam, along the east himalayas. The key fauna is the golden langur.

  10. Dehang-dibang

    Designated as a biosphere reserve in the year 1998, Dehang-dibang falls within the state boundaries of Arunachal Pradesh, along the eastern himalayas.

  11. Panchmarhi

    Designated as a biosphere reserve in the year 1999, Panchmarhi falls within the state boundaries of Madhya Pradesh. The key fauna of Panchmarhi are the giant squirrel and the flying squirrel.

  12. Khangchendzonga

    Designated as a biosphere reserve in the year 2000, Khangchendzonga falls within the state boundaries of Sikkim, along the eastern Himalayas. The key fauna of this region is the red panda and the snow leopard.

  13. Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve

    Designated as a biosphere reserve in the year 2001, the Agasthyamalai biosphere reserve falls within the state boundaries of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, along the western ghats. The key fauna here are the elephants and the Nilgiri Tahr.

  14. Achanakamar -Amarkantak

    Designated as a biosphere reserve in the year 2005, Achanakamar –Amarkantak falls within the state boundaries of Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, along the Maikala hills.

  15. Great Rann of Kutch

    Designated as a biosphere reserve in the year 2008, Great Rann of Kutch falls within the state boundaries of Gujarat. The key fauna of this desert is the Indian Wild Ass.

  16. Cold Desert

    Designated as a biosphere reserve in the year 2009, Cold Desert falls within the state boundaries of Himachal Pradesh along the western Himalayas. The key fauna here is the snow leopard.

  17. Seshachalam Hills

    Designated as a biosphere reserve in the year 2010, Seshachalam hills falls within the state boundaries of Andhra Pradesh, along the eastern ghats.

  18. Panna

    Designated as a biosphere reserve in the year 2011, Panna falls within the state boundaries of Madhya Pradesh, along the ken river. The key fauna here is the sambhar and sloth bear, tiger, chinkara, and chital.

Difference between Biosphere Reserves, National Park and WildLife Sanctuaries

  1. Biosphere Reserve

    The International Co-ordinating Council (ICC) of UNESCO’s designation of ‘Biosphere reserve’ for natural areas became active in November, 1971.
    There are 18 Biosphere Reserves in India.

    Features of Biosphere Reserve

    • These are marked areas covering a larger area of land which includes multiple National Parks, Sanctuaries and reserves as well
    • These places are meant for conservation of biodiversity of a specific area
    • The 3 areas include Core, Buffer & Marginal. There’s no outside Species allowed
    • It is used for Conservation & research purpose
    • It is internationally recognized within the framework of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme and nominated by national governments.

  2. Wildlife Sanctuary

    It is a declared area place where endangered species are kept. It restricts any activity that would put the protected animals in any state of undue stress or harm.

    Features of Wildlife Sanctuary

    • It is natural area declared/protected by a governmental or private agency for the conservation of particular species.
    • It is strictly designated for the protection of wild fauna.
    • Only fauna is conserved. No outside activities are allowed
    • It comes under the category called “Protected Areas”. The Protected Areas are declared under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
    • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has defined  its Category IV type of protected areas

  3. National Park

    National parks are home to multiple species of species of birds and animals which is marked by Central And State Government for the purpose of conservation.

    Features of National Park

    • It is reserved land owned by the government.
    • The area is protected from industrialization, human exploitation, and pollution.
    • Cutting, Grazing and Outside Species Is not Allowed
    • It comes under the category called “Protected Areas”. The Protected Areas are declared under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
    • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and its World Commission on Protected Areas, has defined  its Category II type of protected areas.

Criteria For Designation Of Biosphere Reserve

Article 5 of the 1995 Statutory Framework of the World Network of Biosphere Reserve, states the designation procedure for biosphere reserves.

It reads as follows:

Article 5- Designation procedure

1.    Biosphere reserves are designated for inclusion in the Network by the International Coordinating Council (ICC) of the MAB Programme in accordance with the following procedure.

  • States, through National MAB Committees where appropriate, forward nominations with supporting documentation to the secretariat after having reviewed potential sites, taking into account the criteria as defined in Article 4.
  • The secretariat verifies the content and supporting documentation: in the case of incomplete nomination, the secretariat requests the missing information from the nominating State.
  • Nominations will be considered by the Advisory Committee for Biosphere Reserves for recommendation to ICC.
  • ICC of the MAB Programme takes a decision on nominations for designation.
  • The Director-General of UNESCO notifies the State concerned of the decision of ICC.
  • States are encouraged to examine and improve the adequacy of any existing biosphere reserve, and to propose extension as appropriate, to enable it to function fully within the Network. Proposals for extension follow the same procedure as described above for new designations.
  • Biosphere reserves which have been designated before the adoption of the present Statutory Framework are considered to be already part of the Network. The provisions of the Statutory Framework therefore apply to them.

Characteristics of Biosphere Reserves

  1. It aims at Achieving the three international functions of conservation, development and logistic support.
  2. It was designated as a means to outdo traditional confined conservation zones, through the process of combining appropriate zoning schemes with core protected areas and zone where sustainable development is fostered. local dwellers and enterprises with strong innovative and participative governance systems are also participants in a biosphere reserve.
  3. It Focuses on a multi-stakeholder approach with high emphasis on the involvement of local communities for management
  4. It promotes proper dialogue for conflict resolution of any natural resource utilization.
  5. It Integrates cultural and biological diversity. the role of traditional knowledge in ecosystem management is highlighted.
  6. It showcases sound sustainable development practices and policies based on proper research and monitoring.
  7. It acts as sites for education and training.
Written by Greeta Sulochana
Greeta Sulochana is a content evangelist with a flair for compelling creative writing. She has penned down her thoughts in poetry and prose since the past five years, and has catered her skills to the Indian and international audiences. She started out as an advertising intern with Grey worldwide, and is now a full-fledged writer in passion and profession, who has worked for major national brands. Profile

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