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Biosphere Reserves: Pockets of Hope

Why is it in the news?

  • November 3 is marked as the World Biosphere Reserve Day every year to accentuate the significance of biosphere reserves and champion their sustainable usage and conservation.
  • The day was earmarked by UNESCO in 2022.

 

About Biosphere Reserves

  • Defined as ‘learning locales for sustainable development’, they serve as laboratories to trial interdisciplinary tactics for comprehending and steering the dynamics and interplays between ecological and social systems, especially biodiversity conflict prevention and management.
  • Nominated by individual countries, they remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the respective nominating states.
  • As per UNESCO, 738 biosphere reserves are spread across 134 nations, inclusive of 22 transboundary locations.
  • India houses 12 such reserves recognized under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme.

 

Zonal Classification

  • Core Zone: This central segment is stringently safeguarded, ensuring a haven for diverse flora, fauna, and the ecosystem encompassing air, soil, and water.
  • Buffer Zone: Encircling or adjoining the core, this area facilitates eco-friendly activities that bolster scientific scrutiny, training, and education.
  • Transition Zone: Constituting the outermost boundary, this region witnesses sustainable human activities rooted in socio-cultural and ecological precepts.

 

Significance

  • Biosphere reserves shelter myriad ecosystems, from dense rainforests to barren alpine deserts, harbouring countless rare and endangered species. They are pivotal hubs for sustainable economic evolution.
  • In the combat against climate change, they play a monumental role, especially given their function as carbon sinks absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

 

Challenges Faced

  • Climate change vulnerabilities manifesting as invasive species or dire meteorological occurrences.
  • Pollution contaminating surface waters.
  • A dearth of financial resources.
  • Rampant unregulated development.

 

Initiatives in Focus:

 

World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR):

·       Initiated in 1971 by UNESCO.

·       Comprises internationally recognized protected terrains, the biosphere reserves, exemplifying a harmonious human-nature relationship under the aegis of the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB).

 

Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB):

·       An intergovernmental scientific endeavour inaugurated by UNESCO in 1971.

·       Aims to fortify the nexus between humanity and environment by synergizing natural and social sciences for ecosystem conservation, sustainable economic growth, and improved livelihoods.

 

The Asian Meet – SACAM:

·       Organized in Chennai, India, the 10th South and Central Asian Biosphere Reserve Network Meeting (SACAM) was a joint venture between UNESCO, India’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, and the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management.

·       The meet, themed “Ridge to Reef,” functioned as a knowledge-sharing platform promoting sustainable environmental practices within the South and Central Asia Region.

 

 

Recommendations

  • Emphasize safeguarding these reserves against climate change repercussions and intensify research endeavours to mitigate climate-induced impacts.
  • Facilitate knowledge dissemination and pioneering practices across sites grappling with analogous challenges to expedite advancements aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Explore collaborative management and fundraising strategies to fortify these global networks.

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