24 new sites join UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves

A biosphere reserve is a site destined to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity and human activity through the sustainable use of natural resources

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 26 July 2018

The International Co-ordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme has added 24 new sites to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves during its meeting in Indonesia’ Palembang from July 23 to 28, an official statement from UNESCO has stated.

Biosphere reserves are sites destined to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity and human activity through the sustainable use of natural resources. One of their objectives is to give rise to innovative sustainable development practices. New reserves are designated every year by the International Co-ordinating Council for the MAB Programme, a body with a rotating elected membership of 34 UNESCO member states.

Established by UNESCO in the early 1970s, the MAB Programme is an inter-governmental scientific programme that aims to improve relations between people and their natural environment.

The 24 new sites include: Arly (Burkina Faso), Mount Huangshan (China), Mount Kumgang (North Korea), Chocó Andino de Pichincha (Ecuador), Khangchendzonga (India), Berbak-Sembilang, Betung Kerihun Danau Sentarum Kapuas Hulu and Rinjani-Lombok (Indonesia), Kopet-Dag (Iran), Mont Peglia and  Val Camonica–Alto Sebino (Italy), Tsimanampesotse–Nosy Ve Androka (Madagascar), Lower Prut (Moldova), Quirimbas (Mozambique), Maasheggen (Netherlands), Charyn Biosphere Reserve and Zhongar Biosphere Reserve (Kazakhstan), Suncheon Biosphere Reserve (South Korea), Mountainous Urals (Russia), The Mura River (Slovenia), Marico (South Africa), Ponga (Spain),  Wadi Wurayah (United Arab Emirates) and Gombe Masito Ugalla (Tanzania).

About Khangchendzonga, the UNESCO statement noted: “This biosphere reserve is one of the highest ecosystems in the world, reaching elevations of 1,220 to 8,586 metres above sea level. The site is one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots. It includes vast natural forests that support high species diversity with high levels of endemism. The main economic activities are agricultural and horticultural crops, animal husbandry, fish, dairy and poultry farming.”

Mount Huangshan in China          Credit: UNESCOWith the 24 additions, the MAB network now numbers 686 Biosphere Reserves.

Two existing biosphere reserves have been extended and had their names changed. They include the Thuringian Forest Biosphere Reserve (renamed from former Vessertal-Thuringe Biosphere Reserve) in Germany and Ticino, Val Grande Verbano Biosphere Reserve (renamed from Valle del Ticino Biosphere Reserve) in Italy.

In the new list, biosphere reserves have been designated in Moldova and Mozambique for the first time.

Also, five sites in Australia, one site in the Netherlands and another in the United States of America have been withdrawn.

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