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Home > Lifestyle News > Nature And Wildlife News > Article > UNESCO designates 11 new biosphere reserves in 11 countries Find details here

UNESCO designates 11 new biosphere reserves in 11 countries: Find details here

Updated on: 09 July,2024 03:32 PM IST  |  Morocco
mid-day online correspondent |

Each biosphere reserve promotes innovative local sustainable development solutions, protects biodiversity, and addresses climate disruption

UNESCO designates 11 new biosphere reserves in 11 countries: Find details here

Image for representational purposes only (Photo Courtesy: iStock)

UNESCO has recently approved the designation of 11 new biosphere reserves in 11 countries, including Belgium and Gambia for the first time and two transboundary biosphere reserves. The other new biosphere reserves are located in Colombia, Dominican Republic, Italy, Mongolia, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Slovenia and Spain.

Biosphere reserves are sites for implementing different approaches to sustainable development and interaction between social and ecological environment. Each biosphere reserve promotes innovative local sustainable development solutions, protects biodiversity, and addresses climate disruption. They also support local and indigenous communities through practices such as agro-ecology, water management, and the generation of green income. 

According to the statement by UNESCO, with these new biosphere reserves covering a total area of 37,400 square km, the World Network of Biosphere Reserves now totals 759 sites in 136 countries.

These additions were decided during the 36th session of the International Co-ordinating Council, the governing body of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere programme.

The 11 newly designated biosphere reserves are:

Kempen-Broek Transboundary Biosphere Reserve (Belgium, Kingdom of the Netherlands)

Kempen-Broek offers a captivating blend of natural wonders and human history. Once expansive wetlands have been transformed into farmlands since the 19th century but the area retains remnants of its marshes, punctuated by ponds, open marshlands and bog forests.

Spanning 264 square km, the biosphere reserve is home to approximately 75,000 people, with tourism and agriculture being its economic pillars. It is the first biosphere reserve to be designated in Belgium and is shared with the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Darién Norte Chocoano Biosphere Reserve (Colombia)

Amidst the vibrant Darien ecoregion, within the Biogeographic Chocó, lies a biodiversity bridge connecting the fauna and flora of North and South America, with emblematic species like the majestic harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) and the colourful poison dart frogs. Encompassing a sprawling mosaic of ecosystems ranging from lush tropical rainforests to marine areas along the Gulf of Urabá, it covers a vast territory spanning 3016 km square, almost 40 per cent of which consists in marine areas.

The biosphere reserve has a diverse population of 24,287, predominantly composed of Indigenous Peoples and Afro-Colombian origins.

Madre de las Aguas Biosphere Reserve (Dominican Republic)

Madre de las Aguas Biosphere Reserve is a sprawling expanse that encompasses 11 provinces and 35 municipalities, sheltering a population of 472,526 and spanning 9,374 square km.

This territory is characterized by its diverse topography, which has been sculpted by the Cordillera Central. An array of natural wonders ranging from plateaus to cascading waterfalls form an intricate tapestry of landscapes. This biosphere reserve features four distinct ecosystems which harbour 88 avian species, 20 of which are endemic and 17 under threat.

Also Read: To travel or not? Decoding the overtourism and irresponsible tourism catastrophe

Niumi Biosphere Reserve (Gambia)

Stretching along the north bank of the Gambia River, the biosphere reserve lies adjacent to Senegal’s Delta de Saloum Biosphere Reserve in the north. Within its boundaries, mangroves dominate the coastal areas and riverbanks, whereas, downstream, striking red limestone formations punctuate tropical forests and open savannah woodland.

The biosphere reserve safeguards some of West Africa's last pristine mangrove forests, alongside the Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve and various State forests. With a sprawling expanse of 1937 square km, the biosphere reserve is home to approximately 178,000 people. 

Colli Euganei Biosphere Reserve (Italy)

This landscape in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy is defined by no fewer than 81 volcanic hills, including the towering Monte Venda which rises amidst thermal spas and verdant plains adorned with olive groves and vineyards.

Spanning 15 municipalities, the area is rich in both natural and cultural heritage. The region's volcanic history and thermal waters contribute to its allure, making it the largest thermal basin in Europe. With a total area of 341 square km, the biosphere reserve hosts a population of 111,368.

Julian Alps Transboundary Biosphere Reserve (Italy, Slovenia)

This transboundary biosphere reserve is the result of the merger of two Slovenian and Italian biosphere reserves which had been designated in 2003 and 2019, respectively. The transboundary biosphere reserve spans 2671 square km, encompassing core areas of 735 square km, buffer zones spanning 438 square km and transition areas totalling 1497 square km which are home to 109,060 inhabitants across 20 municipalities.

The area boasts a patchwork of alpine mountains and karst plateaux dotted by waterfalls and pristine lakes. The rich biodiversity includes brown bears, lynxes, otters and wildcats.

Khar Us Lake Biosphere Reserve (Mongolia)

Situated in the expansive western expanse of Mongolia, Khar Us Lake Biosphere Reserve occupies a vast depression within the Great Lake basin spanning 14153 square km in the Khovd Province. Its diverse ecosystems encompass aquatic realms, deserts, high mountain terrain and steppe landscapes, each contributing to the region's ecological richness.

The biosphere reserve has a core area of 703 square km, a buffer zone of 7800 square km and a transition area of 5650 square km.

Apayaos Biosphere Reserve (Philippines)

This biosphere reserve in the Province of Apayao is divided into two distinct regions: the Upper Apayao sports rugged terrain with towering peaks, plateaus and valleys, whereas the Lower Apayao features flatlands adorned with rolling hills and plateaus. Stretching 180 km, the majestic Apayao River serves as a vital watershed, nurturing 18 tributaries across the province.

Apayaos is a name that encompasses both the people and diverse flora and fauna living in the area. There are various ethnolinguistic groups and ten Indigenous Cultural Communities whose traditions and laws are deeply intertwined with the land and its resources.

The population of 124,366 engages primarily in rice and corn cultivation. However, ecotourism is progressing in the province. The biosphere reserve spans 3960 square km.

Changnyeong Biosphere Reserve (Republic of Korea)

Located in the central northern region of Gyeongsangnam-do Province, Changnyeong Biosphere Reserve forms a tapestry of biodiversity and cultural heritage.

Encompassing habitats ranging from the lush forests of Mount Hwawang to the sprawling Upo Wetland and agricultural croplands, the region's diverse landscapes spans 531 square km. Notably, Upo Wetland stands as a testament to successful conservation efforts, exemplified by the restoration of the endangered crested ibis (Nipponia nippon) since 2008. Changnyeong-gun County was recognized as a Ramsar Wetland City in 2018.

Val d'Aran Biosphere Reserve (Spain)

Nestled at the western frontier of the Catalan Pyrenees, the biosphere reserve spans approximately 632 square km, serving as Catalonia's sole north-facing valley. Its unique position as a watershed between the Mediterranean and Atlantic realms means that it features diverse climatic and biological landscapes. It is also a bastion of Occitan cultural and linguistic heritage.

Home to 9983 inhabitants, the Val d'Aran has historically thrived on activities ranging from agriculture and crafts to trade. Lately, the re-introduction of brown bears has raised concerns among local livestock farmers.

Irati Biosphere Reserve (Spain)

Irati Biosphere Reserve is located within the mid-mountain expanse of the western Pyrenees. A haven for biodiversity, its expansive forests are dominated by beech and beech-fir, making it the second-largest beech forest in Europe. Encompassing the picturesque valleys of Salazar and Aezkoa in the northeastern reaches of Navarre, it spans 537 square km and is home to 2435 inhabitants.

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