What Is A Biosphere Region?

Biosphere Regions are models for sustainable development, implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through collaboration and engagement across communities and sectors.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) mission is to build networks among global nations to achieve lasting peace.

UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) is an internationally acclaimed program with the goal of ensuring human health and welfare in an enduring and livable environment, while cultivating opportunities for sustainable development. The World Network of Biosphere Reserves includes 669 sites, in 120 countries around the world.

Biosphere Reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal/marine ecosystems that are internationally recognized within the MAB program. In a Biosphere Reserve, lands and waters are designated into three zones: Core area(s) comprise strictly protected ecosystems. Buffer zones adjoining the core areas are used for activities that reinforce ecological practices like scientific research, education and training. Transition zones, support the greatest use and activities, and foster socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable development.

A Biosphere is intended to fulfil three complementary and mutually reinforcing functions:

1.     Conservation - to contribute to conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation;

2.    Development - to foster socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable economic and human development;

3.    Logistic Support - to provide support for research, monitoring, education and information exchange related to issues of conservation and development.

Each Biosphere organization must co-create its own unique governance structure to meet its functions and objectives.

Biosphere Reserve organizations are governed by the UN’s Statutory Framework for Biosphere Reserves. Designation of a Biosphere Reserve requires no special legislation, nor is it subject to any binding convention. It utilizes existing legal frameworks for protection and management and provides a structure within which to develop innovative, environmentally sustainable and culturally appropriate approaches to economic development

While each Biosphere Region is unique, all BRs have three main functions:

  • Conservation & Protection of Biodiversity
  • Sustainable Development
  • Education and Research