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Biosphere Reserves in India

23-NOV-2015 14:44

    Biosphere Reserves are representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes extending over large area of terrestrial or coastal/marine ecosystems or a combination thereof and representative examples of bio-geographic zones/provinces.

    Criteria for designation

    • A site that must contain an effectively protected and minimally disturbed core area of value of nature conservation.

    • The core area should be typical of a bio-geographical unit and large enough to sustain viable populations representing all trophic levels in the ecosystem.

    • The management authority to ensure the involvement/cooperation of local communities to bring variety of knowledge and experiences to link biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development while managing and containing the conflicts.

    • Areas potential for preservation of traditional tribal or rural modes of living for harmonious use of environment.

    International Status of Biosphere Reserves

    The UNESCO has introduced the designation ‘Biosphere Reserve’ for natural areas to minimize conflict between development and conservation. Biosphere Reserves are nominated by national government which meet a minimal set of criteria and adhere to minimal set of conditions for inclusion in the world network of Biosphere reserves under the Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme of UNESCO. Globally 621 Biosphere Reserve representing from 117 countries included in the network so far.

    Structure and functions

    Biosphere reserves are demarcated into following 3 inter-related zones:

    Core Zone: This zone must contain suitable habitat for numerous plant and animal species, including higher order predators and may contain centres of endemism. Core areas often conserve the wild relatives of economic species and also represent important genetic reservoirs having exceptional scientific interest. A core zone being National Park or Sanctuary/protected/regulated mostly under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Whilst realizing that perturbation is an ingredient of ecosystem functioning, the core zone is to be kept free from l human pressures external to the system.

    Buffer Zone: This zone adjoins or surrounds core zone, uses and activities are managed in this area in the ways that help in protection of core zone in its natural condition. These uses and activities include restoration, demonstration sites for enhancing value addition to the resources, limited recreation, tourism, fishing, grazing, etc; which are permitted to reduce its effect on core zone. Research and educational activities are to be encouraged. Human activities, if natural within BR, are likely to continue if these do not adversely affect the ecological diversity.

    Transition Zone: This zone is the outermost part of a biosphere reserve. This is usually not delimited one and is a zone of cooperation where conservation knowledge and management skills are applied and uses are managed in harmony with the purpose of the biosphere reserve.  This includes settlements, crop lands, managed forests and area for intensive recreation and other economic uses characteristics of the region.

    Tripartite functions of Biosphere Reserve (Conservation, Development and logistic support)

    • To conserve the diversity and integrity of plants and animals within natural ecosystems

    • To safeguard genetic diversity of species on which their continuing evolution depends

    • To ensure sustainable use of natural resources through most appropriate technology for improvement of economic well-being of the local people

    • To provide areas for multi-faceted research and monitoring

    • To provide facilities for education and training

    Management of Biosphere Reserve

    100% grant-in-aid is provided under the Biosphere Reserve scheme for the approved items of activities for implementation of Management Action Plans submitted by the concerned States/UT. The activities permitted under the scheme are broadly under the following areas:

    • Value addition activities

    • Sustainable use of threatened resources

    • Rehabilitation of landscapes of threatened species and ecosystems

    • Socio-economic upliftment of local communities

    • Maintenance and protection of corridor areas

    • Development of communication system and Networking

    • Development of Eco-tourism

    Biosphere Reserve scheme is different from other conservation related schemes. It has the focus on the welfare of local inhabitants through provision of supplementary and alternate livelihood support to the people in the buffer and transition zones in order to reduce biotic pressure on biodiversity of the natural reserves of core zone.

    Biosphere Reserves in India

    There are 18 notified Biosphere reserves in India. As of now, only Nine viz. Nilgiri (2000), Gulf of Mannar (2001), Sunderban (2001), Nanda Devi(2004), Nokrek (2009), Pachmarhi(2009), Similipal (2009), Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve (2012) and Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve (2013) are in the UNESCO’s MAB world network.

    List of Biosphere Reserves, their area, date of designation, and location

    Sl. No

    Year

    Name

    State

    Type

    Key Fauna

    1

    2008

    Great Rann of Kutch

    Gujarat

    Desert

    Indian Wild Ass

    2

    1989

    Gulf of Mannar

    Tamil Nadu

    Coasts

    Dugong or Sea Cow

    3

    1989

    Sundarbans

    West Bengal

    Gangetic Delta

    Royal Bengal Tiger

    4

    2009

    Cold Desert

    Himachal Pradesh

    Western Himalayas

    Snow Leopard

    5

    1988

    Nanda Devi

    Uttarakhand

    Western Himalayas

    NA

    6

    1986

    Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve

    Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka

    Western Ghats

    Nilgiri Tahr, Lion-tailed macaque

    7

    1998

    Dihang-Dibang

    Arunachal Pradesh

    Eastern Himalaya

    NA

    8

    1999

    Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve

    Madhya Pradesh

    Semi-Arid

    Giant Squirrel, Flying Squirrel

    9

    2010

    Seshachalam Hills

    Andhra Pradesh

    Eastern Ghats

    NA

    10

    1994

    Simlipal

    Odisha

    Deccan Peninsula

    Gaur, Royal Bengal Tiger, Wild elephant

    11

    2005

    Achanakamar -Amarkantak

    Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh

    Maikala Hills

    NA

    12

    1989

    Manas

    Assam

    East Himalayas

    Golden Langur, Red Panda

    13

    2000

    Khangchendzonga

    Sikkim

    East Himalayas

    Snow Leopard, Red Panda

    14

    2001

    Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve

    Kerala, Tamil Nadu

    Western ghats

    Nilgiri Tahr, Elephants

    15

    1989

    Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve

    Andaman and Nicobar Islands

    Islands

    Saltwater Crocodile

    16

    1988

    Nokrek

    Meghalaya

    East Himalayas

    Red Panda

    17

    1997

    Dibru-Saikhowa

    Assam

    East Himalayas

    Golden Langur

    18

    2011

    Panna

    Madhya Pradesh

    Ken River

    Tiger, Chital, Chinkara, Sambharand Sloth bear

    DISCLAIMER: JPL and its affiliates shall have no liability for any views, thoughts and comments expressed on this article.

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