Current Affairs PDF

UNESCO Designated 11 New Biosphere Reserves

AffairsCloud YouTube Channel - Click Here

AffairsCloud APP Click Here

UNESCO designates 11 new biosphere reservesUnited Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has designated 11 new Biosphere Reserves (BR) in 11 countries including 2 transboundary biosphere reserves. For the 1st time biosphere reserves from Belgium and Gambia were included in UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves(WNBR).

  • Now, the WNBR consists of total 759 sites across 136 countries worldwide.
  • These 11 new BRs were approved during the 36th session of the International Co-ordinating Council (ICC), the governing body of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme held in Agadir, Morocco  from 2 nd July to 5th July, 2024.

Biosphere Reserve (BR): It is an area of land and/or sea designated by UNESCO as being of outstanding universal value because of its unique ecological features.

About Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme:

i.It was launched in 1971as an intergovernmental scientific programme.

  • Aim: To establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments.

ii.It consists of 34 members elected by the biennial General Conference of UNESCO.

Key Points:

i.These newly approved biosphere reserves covers a total area of 37,400 square kilometer (km2) which is equivalent to the size of the Netherlands.

ii.Kempen-Broek tansboundary BR (between Belgium and The Kingdom of the Netherlands) and Julian Alps transboundary BR (between Italy and Slovenia) were the only 2 transboundary BRs among the 11 new BRs approved by UNESCO.

iii.Apart from Belgium and Gambia, the other new biosphere reserves are located in Colombia, Dominican Republic, Italy, Mongolia, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Slovenia and Spain.

List of 11 New Biosphere Reserves:

Name of the Biosphere ReserveCountry
Kempen-Broek Transboundary Biosphere ReserveBelgium and The Kingdom of the Netherlands
Madre de las Aguas Biosphere ReserveDominican Republic
Niumi Biosphere ReserveGambia
Colli Euganei BiosphereItaly
Julian Alps Transboundary Biosphere ReserveItaly and Slovenia
Khar Us Lake Biosphere ReserveMongolia
yApayaos Biosphere ReserveThe Philippines
Changnyeong Biosphere ReserveRepublic of Korea
Val d’Aran Biosphere ReserveSpain
Irati Biosphere ReserveSpain
Darién Norte Chocoano Biosphere ReserveColombia

Note: 12 BRs of India has been recognized internationally under MAB Programme.

Key Features of 11 New BRs:

i.Kempen-Broek Transboundary BR:

This BR is the 1st BR to be designated in Belgium and is shared with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, spanning 264 km2 of area and is home to approximately 75,000 people.

  • It is one of the prime habitats for dragon flies in Belgium and the Netherlands.

ii.Darién Norte Chocoano BR:

This BR is located in Colombia, covers a vast territory spanning 3,016 km2 , (almost 40% of which consists in marine areas).

  • It serves as a biodiversity bridge which connects the fauna and flora of North and South America and consists species like: the majestic harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) and the colorful poison dart frogs.

iii.Madre de las Aguas BR:

It lies at the centre of Dominican Republic, spanning 9,374 km2 of area. It features 4 different ecosystems which include 88 avian species, 20 of which are endemic and 17 are under threat.

  • For example, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has declared Sparrowhawk (Buteo ridgwayi) as critically Endangered (EN).

iv.Niumi BR:

It is the 1st BR to be designated in Gambia and lies adjacent to Delta de Saloum BR of Senegal in the north, spanning 1,937 km2 of area, is home to approx. 1.78 lakh inhabitants.

  • The BR includes a Ramsar Wetland and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kunta Kinteh Island.

v.Colli Euganei BR:

This BR with a total area of 341 km2 lies in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy. The Euganean hills or Colli Euganei are volcanic origin, this makes it the largest thermal basin in Europe.

vi.Julian Alps Transboundary BR:

It is a transboundary BR which is formed due to the merger of 2 Slovenian and Italian BRs which had been designated in 2003 and 2009 respectively. It spans 2,671 km2 covering core areas of 735 km2, buffer zones spanning 438 km2 and thus, total area of BR is 1,497 km2.

vii.Khar Us Lake BR:

It is spanning 14,153 km2 located in the Khovd province of Mongolia. Its diverse ecosystems includes: aquatic realms, deserts, high mountain terrain, among others.

viii.Irati BR:

It is located within the mid-mountain expanse of the western Pyrenees in Spain. It has vast forests which are mainly dominated by beech and beech-fir. Thus, makes it the 2nd largest beech forest in Europe.

ix.yApayaos BR:

It is located in the Apayao province of the Philippines. This BR is divided into 2 different regions: the Upper Apayao and the Lower Apayao. It stretches over 180 km of area and serves as an important watershed which nurtures 18 tributaries across the province.

x.Changnyeong BR:

It is situated in the central northern region of Gyeongsangnam-do province of Republic of Korea. It spans 531 km2 of area and covers a wide range of habitats from the lush forests of Mount Hwawang to the sprawling Upo Wetland and agricultural croplands.

xi.Val d’Aran BR:

This BR spans approx. 632 km2 of area and is located at the western frontier of the Catalan Pyrenees in Spain.

About World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR):

i.It is a part of UNESCO’s MAB programme and was launched in 1976, consists of a dynamic and interactive network sites of excellence.

ii.It promotes North-South and South-South collaboration and represents a unique tool for international cooperation in biodiversity conservation. It covers an area of over 74 lakh km2 in 134 countries.

Note: The International Day for Biosphere Reserves observed every year on November 3.

About United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation(UNESCO):
Director-General- Audrey Azoulay
Headquarters Paris, France
Member Nations- 194 member states and 12 associate members