Paris meeting to designate new Biosphere Reserves

New Biosphere Reserves will be designated during the next session of the International Co-ordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, at the Organization’s Headquarters from 8 to 12 June.

Biosphere Reserves are land, marine or coastal sites where innovative practices are trialled in cooperation with local populations with the aim of reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable exploitation.

The World Network of Biosphere Reserves currently numbers 631 sites in 119 countries, including 14 that straddle national boundaries. It includes a wide range of locations such as Cambodia’s lake Tonle Sap, the Mare aux Hippopotames in Burkina Faso, the wetlands of Pantanal in Brazil and the Canary Island of Fuerteventura (Spain).

The International Co-ordinating Council will decide on the inclusion of new Biosphere Reserves and extensions to existing sites. A total of 26 proposals for the inscription of new Reserves have been submitted by 19 countries: Algeria, Argentina, China, Ethiopia, France, Honduras, India, Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Myanmar, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Portugal, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain and Vietnam.

The International Coordinating Council will also examine applications for the $6,000 Michel Batisse Award for excellence in the management of a biosphere reserve, and select the laureats of MAB Awards for young scientists. Every year since 1989, six to ten young researchers receive awards of up to $5,000 to support their research into ecosystems, natural resources and biodiversity, notably within Biosphere Reserves.

Launched by UNESCO in the early 1970s, the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), is an Intergovernmental Scientific Programme that aims to improve relations between people and their environments worldwide. Biosphere Reserves are experimental sites which aim to reconcile biodiversity and sustainable resource utilization, by promoting local solutions to the global challenges humanity is facing. New Reserves are designated yearly by the International Coordinating Council of the Programme, which brings together representatives of 34 UNESCO Member States.

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Media contact: Agnès Bardon, UNESCO Press Service, +33 (0) 1 45 68 17 64, a.bardon(at)unesco.org