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Biosphere Reserves



Technical Guidelines for Biosphere Reserves

The following Technical Guidelines for Biosphere Reserves are a work in progress.


Draft Technical Guidelines for Biosphere Reserves





This section presents the purpose of the document, its relationship to the existing documents of Man And Biosphere (MAB) programme and World Network of Biosphere Reserve (WNBR), in particular the Seville Strategy and Statutory Framework of World Network, the MAB Strategy (2015-2025) and Lima action plan (2016-2025). It explains the applicability of the Technical Guidelines for Biosphere Reserves (TGBR), gives clarification on basic concepts and terminologies of MAB programme and WNBR provide references to WNBR related programmes, conventions and institutions. It includes procedure for drafting and making changes in TGBR.



This section complements the Statutory Framework of the WNBR for new biosphere reserves nomination procedure. It provides useful information about necessary conditions for nomination of new BR as well as practical experiences with preparation of nomination file. It also provides successful examples of nomination files and of common errors to avoid.

II. A. 1. Conservation

  • The objective for conservation of the biosphere reserves: how they are defined and by whom?
  • Various protection instruments and related statutes
  • How do the core areas respond to the objectives for conservation?
  • Tools for conservation according to different zones (regulatory versus contractual)
  • Conservation across entire biosphere reserve How are the objectives for conservation of the biosphere reserve defined and by whom?

II. A. 2. Development

  • What are sustainable development activities and how to define them?
  • To what extend some activities may be allowed or prohibited in biosphere reserves (polluting industries, mining, etc.)?
  • What is the role of core areas for development (ecosystem services, tourism…)?
  • Examples of development activities in biosphere reserves 

II. A. 3. Logistical support

  • Research agenda and partners
  • MAB research agenda within MAB Strategy 2015-2025
  • Monitoring and survey of biodiversity and observatories especially related to Climate Change
  • Research linked to management of territory (including prospective), role of scientific committees, cooperation with research institutions and universities, training, research facilities
  • Education and awareness raising: diversify targets and materials
  • Education for sustainable development
  • Citizen Science

II. A.4. The World Network of Biosphere Reserves comprising of effectively functioning models for sustainable development

Living examples from the WNBR

    II. B. 1. Size

    How to determine if a biosphere reserve has “the appropriate size to serve the three functions” (article 4, item 3 and 4).

    II. B. 2. Zonation

    • Zonation: a tool for integrated management
    • Core area: size, degree and type of protection, zonation with/without predefined core/protected area, human use, role for research, monitoring, education and training
    • Buffer zone: geographical definition (contiguous or surrounding the core area), role vis a vis conservation objectives, regulation of activities and resource uses, role for research and training
    • Transition area : “the transition area should be extended to enhance large areas suitable for approaches such as ecosystem management” (Seville Strategy, the vision); geographical definition, level of development, activities (industry, mining, power stations, cities ; should the transition area surround systematically the core areas and buffer zones, or can it be adapted and how, to the geographical context?
    • Do the external limits of the transition zone have to be defined and according to which rationale?
    • Specific zonation applications and models under different ecological and socio economic development : including cluster BR, estuaries BR, island BRs, archipelago BR, river basin biosphere reserves, mountainous biosphere reserves  …

    II. B. 3. Policy or Management Plan

    • Integrated management plans or policies for the three functions and covering the entire territory of the BR: standard content
    • Drafting process: Who should be involved? How to mobilize stakeholders?
    • Implementation: who should be involved? Budget? Source of funding

    II. B. 4. Governance

    • Stakeholder mapping
    • Mechanisms to manage human use and activities in the buffer zones (art 4 item 7 a): regulatory and contractual policies, incentives, co-decision
    • What is a biosphere reserve style of management? (Seville strategy, the vision); Effective Governance in MAB Strategy 2015-2025 (Strategic Area E).
    • Authority or mechanism: difference between authority and mechanism, composition, police powers
    • Institutional mechanisms to manage coordinate and integrate programmes and activities of the BR
    • Local participation l Biosphere Reserves should include areas where traditional life style and indigenous uses of biodiversity are practiced (including sacred sites) (Seville Strategy, Goal II, 3)
    • Mechanisms to ensure local participation and techniques for conflict resolutions
    • Role of traditional and/or local authorities
    • Examples of local governance within the WNBR 

    II. B.5. Transboundary Biosphere Reserve (Pamplona recommendations)

    This presents the Pamplona recommendations and special features for transboundary BR nomination file

    Areas of cooperation


    Supporting agreements

    • How and with whom to initiate a BR nomination
    • Stakeholders mapping and engagement
    • Vision for a territory
    • Annotated nomination file
    • Designation procedure / ICC decisions: approval, approval pending, deferred and rejected



    This module complements the Statutory Framework about periodic review reports. It provides useful information about critical information and management aspects to report on existing biosphere reserves as well as practical experience with preparation of periodic review file, extension and renaming of existing biosphere reserves. It presents the quality control procedure subsequent to the implementation of the Exit Strategy including the voluntary withdrawal of sites.





    This section complements the statutory framework (article 7) and MAB Strategy (Strategic Action Area B & C), provides case studies and examples on cooperation, and exchanges modalities within the WNBR and with other specific partners. 






    • Minsk Action Plan for the World Network Biosphere Reserves
    • Seville Strategy and Statutory Framework of the World Network Biosphere Reserves
    • Madrid Action Plan
    • MAB Strategy (2015-2025)
    • Lima Action Plan (2016-2025)
    • Biosphere reserves nomination form
    • Biosphere reserves periodic review form
    • Control Quality Process (if any)
    • MAB Young Scientist Award application form
    • Michel Batisse Award application form
    • List of MOU and Agreement