Biosphere Reserve


In 1968, the UNESCO Conference on the Conservation and Rational Use of the Biosphere gave rise to the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme within UNESCO. The biosphere reserve concept was key to achieving MAB's objective of striking a balance between conserving biodiversity, encouraging economic and social development, and preserving cultural values. Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal/marine ecosystems where, through appropriate zoning patterns and management mechanisms, the conservation of ecosystems and their biodiversity is ensured. Each biosphere reserve has three basic functions:
  1. a conservation function: to contribute to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation;
  1. a development function: to foster economic and human development which is socially and ecologically sustainable;
  1. a logistic function: to provide support for research, monitoring, education and information exchange related to local, national and global issues of conservation and development.
For management purposes, each reserve is divided into three zones:
  1. core zone: strictly protected areas with very little human influence, which are used to monitor natural changes in representative ecosystems and serve as conservation areas for biodiversity;
  1. buffer zone: areas surrounding the core zone where only low impact activities are allowed, such as research, environmental education, and recreation;
  1. transition zone: the outer zone where sustainable use of resources by local communities is encouraged and these impacts can be compared to zones of greater protection.
While traditional parks often attempt to form small protected areas in a world increasingly dominated by severe human impacts, biosphere reserves are designed to bring people and nature together to demonstrate how to both use and preserve nature.
Biosphere reserves are designed to answer one of the most challenging questions that the world is facing as we move towards the 21st century: How can we conserve the diversity of plants, animals and micro-organisms which make up our living "biosphere" and maintain healthy natural systems while, at the same time, meet the material needs and aspirations of an increasing number of people? In contrast to traditional parks, biosphere reserves contain strictly protected areas surrounded by buffer and transition zones where a range of human activities is permitted. By recognizing the important role of people in the long-term survival of parks and protected areas, biosphere reserves ensure that local communities have incentives for using natural resources sustainably.
Biosphere reserves are areas designated to provide examples of sustainable development, through integrating conservation, research, and the use of natural resources to meet human needs. Often these reserves are based on national parks, but the biosphere reserve concept emphasizes that they should also work with surrounding communities, since nearby activities will effect the parks and vice-versa. Currently the international biosphere reserve network includes over 350 reserves in more than 80 countries.
The Friends of Keji Cooperating Association is proud to support the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve initiative. For more information, click on the image below.