List of Biosphere Reserves in India

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 the 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 program, 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:
  1. conservation of genetic resources, species, and ecosystems;
  2. scientific research and monitoring; and
  3. Promoting sustainable development in communities of the surrounding region.
Functions of Biosphere Reserves:

Zonation of Biosphere Reserves:

Divided into 3 zones:

  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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.

biosphere reserves in india

 List of Biosphere Reserves in India

Similipal Biosphere Reserve 

About Similipal Biosphere Reserve: It was formally designated a tiger reserve under Project Tiger in May 1973. It was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1979 with an area of 2750 sq. Km. 

Simplipal Biosphere reserve

Origin of Name: The park derives its name from ‘Simul’, which are red silk cotton trees growing in the area. 

UNESCO Biosphere Reserve: The park was declared a biosphere reserve by the Government of India in 1994. It is a part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves since 2009. 

Location: Simlipal biosphere reserve located in the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha. It is the 7th largest national park in India and Asia’s second-largest Biosphere Reserve. It lies in the eastern end of the Eastern Ghat.  

Part ofSimilipal is part of the Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve. Other Protected Areas Include: 

  1. Similipal Tiger Reserve, 
  2. Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary 
  3. Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary  

Flora: The park has a high biodiversity with about 94 species of orchids and 3,000 species of plants. Among them, Sal is a dominant tree species in the park. 

Fauna: The park is home to the Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, gaur, and chausinghaIt also has a sizeable population of reptiles, which includes the longest venomous snake, the King cobra, and the Tricarinate hill turtle. 

Rivers: At least 12 rivers cut across the plain area, all of which drain into the Bay of Bengal. The prominent among them are Burhabalanga,  Palpala Bandan,  Salandi,  Kahairi and Deo. It is also home to some beautiful waterfalls like Joranda and Barehipani Falls.

Tribes: The two tribes namely Erenga Kharias and the Mankirdias inhabit the reserve’s forests. Other dominant tribes include the Ho, Gonda, and Munda among others. 

Threats:  

Forest Fires in the Simlipal National Park: The forest fires seemed to be both due to natural causes and human-made causes. 

  • Natural causes: lighting or even soaring temperatures can sometimes result in these fires. Moreover, the forests of Similipal are of a dry deciduous type and the fallen leaves become highly inflammable if there is no precipitation. 

Man-Made Causes:

  • Poaching and hunting: the poachers set a small patch of forest on fire to divert the wild animals. It can lead to forest fires. 
  • Sometimes, Forest areas are set on fire by the villagers to clear the dry leaves on the ground for easy collection of mahua flowers. These flowers are used to prepare a drink that is addictive in nature. 

Nilgiris Elephant Corridor and Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve 

About Nilgiris elephant corridor: It is situated in the ecologically fragile Sigur plateau. The plateau connects the Western and the Eastern Ghats. Apart from that, the plateau also sustains elephant populations and their genetic diversity. 

Nilgiri Biosphere reserve

Source: Vikaspedia 

Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve: The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected forest area in India.  

Location: The Biosphere Reserve spreads across three states. Namely, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala. 

Flora: It hosts forest systems, ranging from seasonal rain forests in the low hills, tropical montane Shola forests and grasslands in the higher reaches, and moist deciduous to scrub through dry-deciduous towards the plains in the Eastern end.  

Endemic Flora: Vanda, Liparis, BulbophyllumSpiranthesThrixspermum 

Fauna:  Important faunal elements include Tiger, Elephant, Gaur, Lion tail macaque, Cheethal, Sambar, Wild Boar, Barking deer, Nilgiri Tahr, etc. 

Hills and Wildlife Sanctuaries:  

  • The reserve includes the AralamMudumalaiMukurthiNagarholeBandipur, and Silent Valley national parks.  Similarly,  the reserve also includes the Wayanad, Karimpuzha, and Sathyamangam wildlife sanctuaries. 
  • It has the Nilgiri Hills on its southwestern side and the Moyar River Valley on its north-eastern side. The elephants cross the plateau in search of food and water. 

UNESCO World Heritage Site: The Nilgiri Sub-Cluster is a part of the Western Ghats which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012. 

Significance: About 80% of flowering plants reported from the Western Ghats occur in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. 


Panna Biosphere Reserve

UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program has included the Panna Biosphere Reserve to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves.  

Panna National Park

Location: Madhya Pradesh 

About Panna Biosphere Reserve: The Panna Biosphere Reserve in India encompasses Panna National Park, three sections of the Gangau Sanctuary. 

Forest and vegetation: The major vegetation of the park is miscellaneous dry deciduous forest mixed with grassland area. The site is characterized by forests, seasonal as well as aquatic, and marshy vegetation. 

Rivers: Ken River flows through this reserve and creates beautiful waterfalls on its way to the valley. 

Flora: Characterized by forests and marshy vegetation. It has an abundance of rare medicinal plants as well as other non-timber forestry products such as Kattha, gum, and resins. 

Fauna:  

  • Endangered animals like Tiger, Leopard and Chinkara.  
  • It is also home to the Siyah Gosh (Felis caracal) and Jungle cat (Felis chaus). 
  • Other exotic animals like Chital, Nilgai, Sloth Bear, Sambhar.  
  • More than 200 species of birds including the King vulture, Indian Vulture, and bar-headed goose. 

Significance: Panna National Park was declared as the 22nd Tiger Reserve of India and the 5th in Madhya Pradesh in the year of 1994It is a critical tiger habitat area and hosts the Panna Tiger Reserve, as well as the World Heritage site of the Khajuraho Group of Monuments.

Read MoreOther Biosphere Reserves


 

Nokrek Biosphere Reserve 

Location: Meghalaya (part of Garo Hills) 

Rivers: Ganol, Dareng and Simsang 

Details: 

Climate: Tropical- High humidity, Monsoon Rains, High Temperature 

Flora: 

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 

Protected areas:  Nokrek National Park


Great Nicobar bioshpere reserve

Location: Anadaman & Nicobar Islands 

Details: 

Climate: Tropical 

Flora: 

Tropical and Sub-tropical Moist Broad-leafed Forest 

Endemic Flora: Screw pine, Nipa palm, Ceylon iron wood 

Fauna: 

Endemic Fauna: Crab-eating macaque, Nicobar megapode, Giant robber crab, Nicobar serpent eagle


Gulf of Mannar 

Location: Tamil Nadu (Indian part of Gulf of Manna 

Details: 

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 

Fauna: 

Endemic Fauna:  Sea Cow, Sea Anemone, Sea fans 

Protected areas: 

Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park 

Note: 

First marine Biosphere Reserve in India  

Falls within the Indo-Malayan realm


Manas biosphere reserve

Location: Assam 

Rivers: Manas-Beki 

Details: 

Climate: Tropical Monsoon 

Flora:  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 

Protected areas: 

Wildlife Sanctuary 

National Park 

Tiger Reserve 

Note: 

World Natural Heritage site 

 


Sunderbans biosphere reserve

Location: West Bengal 

Rivers: Meghna 

Details: 

Climate: Tropical Monsoon 

Flora: 

Forest Types: Tidal Swamp Forests, Saline Water Type Mixed Forests, Brackish Water Type Mixed Forests, Palm Swamp Type 

Endemic Flora: Sundari, Passur, Nypa 

Fauna: 

Endemic Fauna: Bengal tiger, Bengal monitor lizard, Salvator lizard 

Others: Gangetic dolphin, , estuarine crocodile, river terrapin, olive ridley turtle, 

Protected areas: 

1.Sundarban National Park /Sundarban tiger Reserve 

2. Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary 

3. Lothian Wildlife Sanctuary 

4. Haliday Wildlife Sanctuary 

Note: 

World Natural Heritage Site


 Dibru-Saikhowa biosphere reserve 

Location: Assam 

Rivers: Dibru, Bramhaputra 

Details: 

Climate: Tropical monsoon 

Flora: 

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 

Protected areas: 

  1. Dibru-SaikhowaNational Park 

(was declared wildlife sanctuary in 1986)


Dehang-Dibang biosphere reserve

Location: Arunachal Pradesh 

Rivers: Dehang, Debang and their tributaries 

Details: 

Flora:  

Vegetation Types: sub-tropical broad-leaved, sub-tropical pine, temperate broad-leaved, temperate conifer, sub-alpine woody shrub, alpine meadow (monton), bamboo brakes and grassland. 

Endemic Flora: Tree fern, Begonia, Lady’s slipper orchid 

Fauna: Endemic Fauna: Red panda, Himalayan black bear, Green pit viper, Takin 

Protected areas: 

  1. MoulingNational Park 
  2. DibangWildlife Sanctuary 

Panchmarhi biosphere reserve

Location: Madhya Pradesh 

Rivers: Denwa 

Details: 

Climate: 

Tropical Monsoon climate 

The Panchmarhi plateau is cool in summer and has heavy rainfall in the rainy season, whereas low lands in the Narmada basin are uncomfortably hot in summer with less rainfall 

Flora: 

Forest Types: moist deciduous, dry deciduous, central Indian subtropical hill forest. 

Endemic Flora: Sal tree, Selaginella fern, Palimorpha bamboo 

Endemic Fauna: Barasinga, Wild buffalo, Red jungle fowl 

Protected areas: 

1. Bori Sanctuary, 

2. Pachmarhi Sanctuary 

3. SatpuraNational Park 

These altogether have also been notified as Satpura Tiger Reserve 

Note: 

Pachmarhi BR area is often recognized as “Genetic Express Highway” linking two biological hot spots of the country viz. Eastern Himalayas and the Western Ghats, also as a confluence of northern and southern type of vegetation. 

 

 

 

Khangchendzonga 

Location: 

Sikkim 

Rivers: 

Teesta 

Details: 

Climate: Varies with altitude, aspect 

Flora: 

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 

Fauna: 

Endemic Fauna: Tibetan sheep, Musk deer, Monal pheasant, Snow patridge 

Protected areas: 

Kanchenjunga National Park 

Note: 

India’s first Mixed Heritage Site 

 

 

Agasthyamalai 

Location: 

Kerala, Tamil Nadu 

Rivers: 

Tambraparani 

Details: 

Climate: Tropical Monsoon 

Flora: 

Forest Typesthorn, 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 

Protected areas: 

1.Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary 

2.Peppara Wildlife sanctuary 

3.Shendumey wildlife Sanctuary 

  1. KalakadMundanthurai Tiger Reserve. 

Note: 

World Natural Heritage Site 

Part of “Hottest biodiversity hotspots” 

 

 

Achanakamar-Amarkantak 

Location: 

Chhattisgarh 

Rivers: 

Narmada, Johilla and Sone, Ama Nallah 

Details: 

Climate: Tropical Monsoon 

Flora: 

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 

 

 

Kachchh 

Location: 

Gujarat 

Rivers: 

Luni, Rupen, West Banas drains into the area 

Details: 

Climate: Arid, Desert like conditions 

Two major ecosystems: Great Rann of Kachchh (GRK) and Little Rann of Kachchh (LRK) 

Flora: 

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 

Protected areas: 

1.Kachchh Desert Sanctuary 

2.Wild Ass Sanctuary (for conservation of wild ass) 

 

 

 

Cold Desert 

Location: 

Himachal Pradesh 

Rivers: 

Pin, Chandrabhaga, Spiti 

Details: 

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 

Protected areas: 

  1. Pin Valley National Park
  2. KibberWildlife Sanctuary 
  3. ChandratalWildlife Sanctuary 
  4. SarchuWildlife Sanctuary 

 

 

 

Seshachalam Hills 

Location: 

Andhra Pradesh 

Rivers: 

Details: 

Climate: tropical Monsoon 

Flora: 

Forest type: Both dry and Moist deciduous Type 

Endemic Flora: Red Sanders and Slender Loris 

Fauna: 

Jungle cat, Great Mouse Deer, golden Gekos 

Protected areas: 

  1. Sri Venkateswara National Park
  2. Sri Venkateshwara wildlife Sanctuary

Panna 

Location: Madhya Pradesh 

Rivers: Ken 

Details: 

Climate: semi-Arid to Dry Sub-humid 

Flora: 

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. 

Fauna: 

Tiger, chinkara, tree shrew, long-snouted crocodile, mugger 

Links the eastern and western wildlife populations of the Vindhyan ranges. 

Protected areas: 

1.Panna National Park/Panna Tiger Reserve 

2.Gangau Wildlife Sanctuary 

3. Ken-Gharial Wildlife sanctuary (dedicated to breeding programs and proper housing ofGharials)

 

 

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