The Bureau of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme has unanimously approved the nomination of the Research Centre for Eco-Environmental Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (China) and the Biosphere Reserve of the Omaña and Luna Valleys (Spain) to jointly coordinate the Technical Secretariat of the World Network of Mountain Biosphere Reserves in conjunction with the MAB Secretariat.
This governance model consisting of a scientific research centre and a biosphere reserve aims to make available the best science and local knowledge for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development, thereby enhancing the capacity of mountain biosphere reserves to act as laboratories for sustainability.
There are currently 727 biosphere reserves in the world 435 of which are situated in mountain environments. In addition, mountain regions account for about a quarter of the Earth’s land surface and are home to approximately 15% of the world’s population, providing a wealth of ecosystem functions and services.
Mountains harbour genetic resources, rich biodiversity and habitats for threatened species. They regulate climate, air quality and water flows, and contribute to protection against natural hazards and the impacts of extreme weather and climate events. As such, mountains are essential elements of the biosphere.
However, the richness of mountain ecosystems is fragile. Global climate change pose particularly risks to mountain regions threatening the loss of rare and endangered species, changes in the water balance – including glacial retreat – and often irreversible shifts in land use all of which alter socio-economic conditions and impact people’s livelihoods.
The World Network of Mountain Biosphere Reserves will address these challenges by enhancing biodiversity conservation efforts, partnership building and knowledge sharing among all actors working in mountain biosphere reserves – especially biosphere reserve managers and coordinators, mountain specialists, scientists from universities and research centres, local communities, other UN agencies and programmes, associations and non-governmental organizations.
The official launch of the World Network of Mountain Biosphere Reserves will take place on 9 December 2021 during a webinar on Sustainable Tourism in Mountain Biosphere Reserves organized by UNESCO’s MAB Programme and the Mountains Research Initiative (MRI) within the framework of celebrations for International Mountain Day.