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Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve, United States of America

The Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve straddles the border of north-central New York and northwestern Vermont. Lake Champlain, the sixth largest lake in the United States, and the Adirondack and Green Mountains are the central features of the biosphere reserve.

Designation date: 1989


Regional network:  EuroMab

Ecosystem-based network: 




    Surface : 3,990,000 ha

    • Core area(s): 1,032,636 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): 1,057,364 ha
    • Transition zone(s): 1,900,000 ha

    Location: 73o 20’W; 44o 00’ N

    Administrative Authorities

    Kelly Cerialo
    Paul Smiths College
    United States of America

    Tel.: N/A


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    Ecological Characteristics

    The Champlain-Adirondak Biosphere Reserve includes extensive temperate coniferous and deciduous forests as well as large numbers of lakes, bogs, and freshwater wetlands. It comprises the largest protected area in the Eastern US.  The single most important ecosystem service is related to watershed values.  Lake Champlain is the sixth largest lake in the US with its headwaters in the Green Mountains and Adirondack Mountains.

    Overall, the Biosphere Reserve contains ecologically healthy populations of approximately 200 species of birds, 58 mammal species (eastern timber wolves and mountain lions have been extirpated), 35 species of reptiles and amphibians, 1,400 plant species and 20,000 species of invertebrates.  


    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    The biosphere reserve and its outlying areas are inhabited by over 400,000 people and are within a day’s drive of 60 million people living in the U.S. and Canada. Forestry and tourism are the economic base in the Adirondack region on the New York side of Lake Champlain. The more diverse economy on the Vermont side of the lake is based on forestry, farming, tourism, light manufacturing, and production of specialty agricultural products.

    Since the Biosphere Reserve designation in 1989 and construction of interstate highways into the region, there has been a significant increase in the development of second homes, which fragment previously intact forest lands and induce changes in the composition and function of local ecosystems. As a consequence, both Vermont and New York have instituted and/or updated their land use and development plans, and have undertaken thorough reviews, enforcement and mitigation efforts in the region.



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    Last updated: July 2019