Biosphere Reserve in India
Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems which promote the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They are internationally recognized within the framework of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme and nominated by national governments. The Ministry of Environment and Forest provides financial assistance to the respective State governments for conservation of landscape and biological diversity and cultural heritage. Biosphere reserves serve in some ways as ‘living laboratories’ for testing out and demonstrating integrated management of land, water and biodiversity. There is a World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) under the MAB Programme. Within this network, exchanges of information, experience and personnel are facilitated.
There are 18 Biosphere reserves in India. As of now, only Nine viz. Nilgiri (2000), Gulf of Mannar (2001), Sunderban (2001), Nanda Devi(2004), Nokrek (2009), Pachmarhi(2009), Similipal (2009), Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve (2012) and Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve (2013) are in the UNESCO’s MAB world network.
Difference between National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries & Biosphere Reserves
National Parks and Wild Life sanctuaries come under the category called as “Protected Areas”. The Protected Areas are declared under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 provides for 4 types of protected areas viz. Wild Life Sanctuaries, National Parks, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves.
The difference between a national park and a sanctuary is that no human activity is allowed inside a national park, while limited activities are permitted within the sanctuary. In Biosphere Reserve, limited economic activity (sand and stone mining) is permitted.
Selection Criteria of Biosphere Reserves :The concept of Biosphere Reserves, especially its zonation into Core Area(s) (dedicated to conservation), Buffer Area(s) (sustainable use) and Transition Area(s) (equitable sharing of benefits) were later broadly adopted under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD ) process which entered into force on 29th December, 1993.
Primary Criteria: A site that must contain an effectively protected and minimally disturbed core area of value of nature conservation and should include additional land and water suitable for research and demonstration of sustainable methods of research and management. The core area should be typical of a biogeographical unit and large enough to sustain viable populations representing all trophic levels in the ecosystem.
Secondary Criteria : Areas having rare and endangered species. Areas having diversity of soil and micro-climatic conditions and indigenous varieties of biota. Areas potential for preservation of traditional tribal or rural modes of living for harmonious use of environment.
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