What are Biosphere Reserves (BR)?
Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal/ marine ecosystems. They are multipurpose protected areas where both flora and fauna are protected. They are ‘Science for Sustainability support sites.’ – promoting research in ecological conservation and environmental preservation.
The concept of Biosphere Reserves was launched in 1971 as a, part of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s ‘Man and Biosphere Programme’.
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Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme
- It is an Intergovernmental Scientific Programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments.
- It was launched by UNESCO in 1971.
- Under the programme, UNESCO has established the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR). Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments. If selected by UNESCO, they are included in the WNBR.
- There are 701 biosphere reserves in 124 countries
Aim of Biosphere Reserves:
- conservation of genetic resources, species, and ecosystems;
- scientific research and monitoring; and
- Promoting sustainable development in communities of the surrounding region.
Functions of Biosphere Reserves:
Zonation of Biosphere Reserves:
Divided into 3 zones:
- Core Areas:
- Includes protected areas-these act as reference points on the natural state of the ecosystems represented by the biosphere reserves
- non-destructive research and other low-impact activities(such as ecotourism) are generally undertaken
- Buffer Zone:
- Surrounds or is contiguous to the core area.
- Activities are organized so they do not hinder the conservation objectives of the core area, but rather help to protect it.
- It is used for cooperative activities compatible with sound ecological practices
- Human activities are less intensive than that in the transition zone
- Transition Zone or Area of Cooperation:
- May contain a variety of agricultural activities, settlements and other uses and in which local communities, management agencies, scientists, NGOs, and other stakeholders work together to manage and sustainably develop the area’s resources.
- The term ‘area of cooperation’ underscores the role of cooperation as the main tool to achieve the objectives of the biosphere reserve.
Biosphere Reserves in India
- There are 18 Biosphere Reserves in India. Of these, 11 are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
- First Biosphere Reserve: Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (Est. 1986)
- Largest Biosphere Reserve: Gulf of Mannar
- Smallest Biosphere Reserve: Panna
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|National Biosphere Reserve Programme:|
Initiated in 1986, the programme aims at conservation of all living resources and their ecological foundations, in addition, to already established protected area network system. It also seeks to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources for the improvement of the economic well-being of local inhabitants.
|Sl. No||Name||Location||Rivers||Details||Protected Areas||Note||Part of WNBR|
|1||Nilgiri||Parts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka||Bhavani, Moyar, Kabini (tribuatries of Cauvery), Chaliyar, Punampuzha, etc.||Climate:|
Annual Rainfall- 500mm-7000mm
Temperature- 0-41 C
Forest Type: Moist Evergreen, Semi-Evergreen, Thorn, Savannah Woodland, Sholas and Grassland
Endemic Flora: Vanda, Liparis, Bulbophyllum, Spiranthes , Thrixspermum
Endemic Fauna: Nilgiri tahr, Nilgiri langur, Lion – tailed macaque
|1.Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary (Also Tiger Reserve),|
2.Wyanaad Wildlife Sanctuary 3.Bandipur National Park (Also Tiger Reserve),
4.Nagarhole National Park (Also Tiger Reserve),
5.Mukurthi National Park
6. Silent Valley
|World Natural Heritage Site||Yes|
|2||Nanda Devi||Uttarakhand||Rishi Ganga||Climate: Dry with low yearly precipitation|
Forest Type: mixed temperate and subalpine
Endemic Flora: Salep Orchid, Silver weed, Fairy candelabra, Fairy Primrose
Endemic fauna: Himalayan tahr, Brown bear, Koklas pheasant
|1. Nanda Devi National park|
2. Valley of Flowers National Park
|Entire area is located within the Western Himalayas Endemic Bird Area (EBA)|
Declared World Natural Heritage Site
|3||Nokrek||Meghalaya (part of Garo Hills)||Ganol, Dareng and Simsang||Climate: Tropical- High humidity, Monsoon Rains, High Temperature|
Forest Type: Evergreen and semi-evergreen deciduous forests
Endemic Flora: Grand rasamala, White meranti, Lali, Chempaka, Wild lemon
Endemic Fauna: Stump tailed macaque, Pig-tailed macaque, Giant flying squirrel
|Nokrek National Park||Yes|
|4||Great Nicobar||Anadaman & Nicobar Islands||Climate: Tropical|
Tropical and Sub-tropical Moist Broad-leafed Forest
Endemic Flora: Screw pine, Nipa palm, Ceylon iron wood
Endemic Fauna: Crab-eating macaque, Nicobar megapode, Giant robber crab, Nicobar serpent eagle
|5||Gulf of Mannar||Tamil Nadu (Indian part of Gulf of Mannar)||Ecosystem types: Tropical Dry Broad-leafed forest, seaweed communities, sea grass communities, coral reefs, salt marshes and mangrove forests.|
Endemic Flora: Endemic Flora : Morning glory, Jatropha, Halophila grass
Endemic Fauna: Sea Cow, Sea Anemone, Sea fans
|Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park||First marine Biosphere Reserve in India|
Falls within the Indo-Malayan realm
|6||Manas||Assam||Manas-Beki||Climate: Tropical Monsoon|
The monsoon forests of Manas lie in the Brahmaputra Valley semi-evergreen forests ecoregion.
Main Forest types: semi-evergreen forests mixed moist and dry deciduous forests, alluvial grasslands, creeper swamp forest, Eastern seasonal Swamp Forest, Cane and bamboo brakes
Endemic Flora: Catechu tree, Sissoo, White siris
Endemic Fauna: Pygmy hog, Golden lungur , Assam roofed turtle
|World Natural Heritage site||No|
|7||Sunderbans||West Bengal||Meghna||Climate: Tropical Monsoon|
Tidal Swamp Forests, Saline Water Type Mixed Forests, Brackish Water Type Mixed Forests, Palm Swamp Type
Endemic Flora: Sundari, Passur, Nypa
Endemic Fauna: Bengal tiger, Bengal monitor lizard, Salvator lizard
Others: Gangetic dolphin, , estuarine crocodile, river terrapin, olive ridley turtle,
|1.Sundarban National Park /Sundarban tiger Reserve|
2.Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary
3.Lothian Wildlife Sanctuary
4.Haliday Wildlife Sanctuary
|World Natural Heritage Site||Yes|
|8||Simplipal||Odhisa||Budhabalanga, Palpala Bhandan, Kharkai River and Deo||Climate: Tropical Monsoon|
Relatively higher annual precipitation of over 200 cm spread over about 135 days.
·Marked variation of temperature range between the central and southern regions.
Forest Type: Northern Tropical Semi Evergreen Forests, Northern Tropical Moist Deciduous Forests,
Endemic Flora: Coix grass
Endemic Fauna: Red breasted falconet, Slender billed scimitar babbler, Ruddy mongoose
|1.Similipal Tiger Reserve,|
2.Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary 3.Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary
|The biosphere reserve has the largest zone of Sal in all of India.||Yes|
|9||Dibru-Saikhowa||Assam||Dibru, Bramhaputra||Climate: Tropical monsoon|
Forest Type: semi wet evergreen forests, tropical moist deciduous forest, bamboo, swamp forests, cane brakes and grasslands.
Endemic Flora: Rauvolfia (Sarpagandhi), Benteak, Livistona (orchid)
Endemic Fauna: White winged wood duck, Hollock-gibbon, Wild buffalo
|1. Dibru-Saikhowa National Park|
(was declared wildlife sanctuary in 1986)
|10||Dehang-Dibang||Arunachal Pradesh||Dehang, Debang and their tributaries||Flora: |
Vegetation Types: sub-tropical broad-leaved, sub-tropical pine, temperate broad-leaved, temperate conifer, sub-alphine woody shrub, alpine meadow (monton), bamboo brakes and grassland.
Endemic Flora: Tree fern, Begonia, Lady’s slipper orchid
Endemic Fauna: Red panda, Himalayan black bear, Green pit viper, Takin
|1. Mouling National Park|
2. Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary
Tropical Monsoon climate
The Panchmarhi plateau is cool in summer and has heavy rainfall in the rainy season, whereas low lands in Narmada basin are uncomfortably hot in summer with less rainfall
Forest Types: moist deciduous, dry deciduous, central Indian sub tropical hill forest.
Endemic Flora : Sal tree, Selaginella fern, Palimorpha bamboo
Endemic Fauna: Barasinga, Wild buffalo, Red jungle fowl
3. Satpura National Park
These altogether has also been notified as Satpura Tiger Reserve
|Pachmarhi BR area is often recognized as “Genetic Express Highway” linking two biological hot spots of the country viz. Eastern Himalayas and Western Ghats, also as confluence of northern and southern type of vegetation.||Yes|
|12||Khangchendzonga||Sikkim||Teesta||Climate: Varies with altitude, aspect|
Forest Type: Sub-tropical broad leaved hill forest, Himalayan wet temperate forest, and temperate broad leaved forest, mixed coniferous forest, sub-alpine a forests and dry alpine forest
Endemic Flora: Anemone, Uvaria, Sikkim Rhododendron, Sikkim Mahonia
Endemic Fauna: Tibetan sheep, Musk deer, Monal pheasant, Snow patridge
|Kanchenjunga National Park||India’s first Mixed Heritage Site||Yes|
|13||Agasthyamalai||Kerala, Tamil Nadu||Tambraparani||Climate: Tropical Monsoon|
Forest Types: thorn, moist deciduous and semi-evergreens
Endemic Flora: Rudraksha tree, Black plums, Gaub tree, Wild dhaman
Endemic Fauna: Lion-tailed macaque, Slender loris, Great pied hornbill
|1.Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary|
2.Peppara Wildlife sanctuary
3.Shendumey wildlife Sanctuary
4. Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve.
|World Natural Heritage Site|
Part of “Hottest biodiversity hotspots”
|14||Achanakamar-Amarkantak||Chhattisgarh||Narmada, Johilla and Sone, Ama Nallah||Climate: Tropical Monsoon|
Forest Type: Tropical deciduous vegetation. Further classified into Northern Tropical Moist Deciduous and Southern Dry Mixed Deciduous forests
Several thallophyte, bryophyte, pteridophyte, gymnosperm, and angiosperm species found.
Fauna: Tigers, panthers, Chitals, blackbuck, giant squirrels etc
|15||Kachchh||Gujarat||Luni, Rupen, West Banas drains into the area||Climate: Arid, Desert like conditions|
Two major ecosystems: Great Rann of Kachchh (GRK) and Little Rann of Kachchh (LRK)
mixed scrub, thorn, savannah in GRK
Mangroves in the eastern border of Banni grassland, inside the GRK a place locally known as Shrawan Kavadia
Fauna: Indian wild ass, Greater and Lesser Flamingos
|1.Kachchh Desert Sanctuary|
2.Wild Ass Sanctuary (for conservation of wild ass)
|16||Cold Desert||Himachal Pradesh||Pin, Chandrabhaga, Spiti||Climate: Cold, harsh climate with low mean annual rainfall-creating desert like conditions|
Flora: Herbs, shrub species
Fauna: Tibetan gazzle, red fox, weasel, marmot, griffon, lammergeyer, golden eagle, snow cock, snow leopard, brown and black bear,ibex etc
|1. Pin Valley National Park|
2. Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary
3. Chandratal Wildlife Santuary
4. Sarchu Wildlife Sanctuary
|17||Seshachalam Hills||Andhra Pradesh||Climate: tropical Monsoon|
Forest type: Both dry and Moist deciduous Type
Endemic Flora: Red Sanders and Slender Loris
Jungle cat, Great Mouse Deer, golden Gekos
|1. Sri Venkateswara National Park|
2. Sri Venkateshwara wildlife Sanctuary
|18||Panna||Madhya Pradesh||Ken||Climate: semi-Arid to Dry Sub-humid|
Vegetation types: Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Dry Teak Forest, Northern Tropical Dry Deciduous Mixed Forest, Dry Deciduous Scrub Forest, Boswellia Forest, Dry Bamboo Brakes, Anogeissus pendula Forest.
Panna represents the northern boundary of the natural distribution of teak, and the eastern limits of teak-kardhai mixed forests.
Tiger, chinkara, , tree shrew, long snouted crocodile, mugger
Links the eastern and western wildlife populations of the Vindhyan ranges.
|1.Panna National Park/Panna Tiger Reserve|
2.Gangau Wildlife Sanctuary
3. Ken-Gharial Wildlife sanctuary (dedicated to breeding programs and proper housing of Gharials)