UNESCO Council Adds 20 New Biosphere Reserves

UNESCO11 July 2012: At its 24th session, the International Co-ordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added 20 new sites, including two transboundary sites, to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR). The network now includes 598 reserves in 117 countries.

The Council met at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, from 9-13 July 2012, and decided to add the following sites to its Network: Salzburger Lungau and Kärntner Nockberge, Austria; West Polesie Transboundary Biosphere Reserve, Belarus/Poland/Ukraine; Jinggangshan, China; Niubeiliang, China; Mura-Drava-Danube, Croatia/Hungary; Sheka, Ethiopia; Bassin de la Dordogne, France; La Selle, Haiti; Achanakmar-Amarkantak, India; Wakatobi, Indonesia; Aya, Japan; Korgalzhyn, Kazakhstan; Tehuacán-Cuicatlán, Mexico; the Island of Príncipe, São Tomé and Principe; Ferlo, Senegal; La Gomera, Spain; Las Ubiñas-La Mesa, Spain; East Vättern Scarp Landscape, Sweden; Bashkirskiyi Ural, Russian Federation; and Galloway and southern Ayrshire Biosphere, UK.

In addition, the Council decided to extend the following existing sites: Fray Jorge Biosphere Reserve, Chile; Réserve de biosphère des Iles et de la Mer d'Iroise Extension and renaming (former Iroise), France; Doñana Biosphere Reserve, Spain; and Sierra Nevada Biosphere Reserve, Spain.

The sites feature mountain ecosystems, floodplains, forests, wetlands, agricultural lands, rural settlements, rivers, coastal ecosystems, islands, freshwater and saline lakes. Biosphere Reserves were inscribed in Haiti, Kazakhstan, and São Tomé and Principe for the first time this year.

Biosphere Reserves are sites established by countries and recognized under UNESCO's MAB Programme to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science. [Meeting Website] [UNESCO Press Release]