Reserves of the Biosphere, the balance between conservation and sustainable development

The Biosphere Reserves were created with the aim of reconciling biodiversity conservation with sustainable use, economic development, research and education. But is it possible to reconcile progress and conservation?

1. THE BIOSPHERE AND MAN PROGRAMM

Since 1970, the Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB) aims to establish scientific bases for improving relationships between people and the environment.

Biosphere reserves are areas composed of terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems, recognized by UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Program. The objective of these areas is to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use, economic development, research and education.

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Image: Tables Daimiel Biosphere Reserve located in Ciudad Real (Spain). Source: http://www.mapama.org

This particular figure of protection must meet certain requirements, such as the need to be large areas of more than 40,000 hectares, with landscapes and habitats representative of a biogeographic region. Another requirement that a Biosphere Reserve must fulfill is to have a high participation of the population, for which several consultation and work committees were created that manage how space will be conserved. This is how to raise awareness and involve people in the conservation of it.

2. HOW DO THEY WORK?

The designation of a “biosphere reserve” of an area implies conservation, scientific research and sustainable development. Its aim is to demonstrate that environmental conservation can be combined with sustainable development, based on the results of local population participation and scientific research.For this, the lands under this protection figure are managed according to their biological, topographical, economic and socio-cultural characteristics.The Biosphere Reserves are characterized by three main functions, which are combined specifically in each of the reserves:

  • Conservation function, contributing to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation.
  • Development function, promoting sustainable economic and human development.
  • Role of networking, supporting demonstration projects, education and training on the environment, research and observation in relation to conservation and sustainable development at local, regional, national and global levels. It is intended that all areas be interconnected and exchange information.
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Image: Biosphere Reserve Huascaran in Peru. Source: http://www.elcomercio.pe

According to their level of protection, Biosphere Reserves are divided into three zones:

  • Core zone: formed by undisturbed ecosystems and characteristic of a specific region. It is the area with the greatest protection, it only allows activities that do not interfere in the conservation of the ecosystem and must ensure the protection of biodiversity in the long term.
  • Cushioning zone: it is an intermediate zone in which activities of scientific investigation, education and environmental training, recreational and tourist activities can be realized, and others that do not interfere in the objectives of the Reserve.
  • Transition zone: in this area the work of the Reserve is applied to the needs of the local population.

 

3. THE BIOSPHERE RESERVES IN THE WORLD

Currently 120 countries are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, with 669 areas declared under this protection figure.

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Image: Map World Biosphere Reserves. Source: UNESCO

You can check the complete list, but here are some The Biosphere that by its singularity should know:

  • Mexico: Guadalupe Island. This island has 253.8 km of surface and is in the Pacific Ocean. It stands out for its diversity of marine flora and fauna, among them the largest colony of Pacific elephant seals and the great white shark.
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Image: Visitors photographing sharks in the marine waters of the Biosphere Reserve of  Guadalupe Island, Mexico. Source: http://www.traveler.es
  • Spain: Picos de Europa. The area, also declared National Park, is located in the central part of the Cantabrian Mountains. They emphasize the gorge of the Beyos and the throat of the Cares, besides its fauna and the variety of forests.
  • Colombia: Andean Belt. It is located in the Andean chain in southern Colombia and consists of three national parks: Cueva de los Guácharos National Park, Puracé National Park and Nevado del Huila National Park, with a great diversity of birds. One of the main objectives of the Reserve is the planning and management of the agro-systems of the area in a sustainable way.
  • Venezuela: Orinoco Delta. It stands out for its great biological diversity, in terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Very frequent estuaries and coastal mangroves.
  • Peru: Huascarán. It is located in the highest and most extensive tropical mountain range on the planet. It is a zone of great biodiversity, thanks to its forests in perfect state of conservation, and its more than 700 glaciers that form lagoons. In order to maintain its protection, a sustainable tourism is practiced which in turn benefits the local population.
  • Germany: Bavarian Forest. It is a spectacular mountain system of medium height, and next to another zone of protection they form the greater forest reserve of Europe.
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Image: Bavarian Forest, Germany. Source: http://www.es.123rf.com
  • United States: Congaree Park. Formed by a forest of fluvial lands, that by its height constitutes one of the highest woody canyons deciduous that remain in the world. 8. China: Huanglong. It is a region located in the southern part of the Minshan Mountains, which stands out for its terraces formed by deposits of calcite and forest ecosystems. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1992.
  • Russia: Lapland. It is located beyond the arctic polar circle and presents a subarctic climate, although free of permafrost (permanent layer of ice in the superficial levels of the soil, which accumulates organic carbon).
  • Indonesia: Komodo National Park. It is located in the Indonesian archipelago and consists of several islands of volcanic origin. At first, the Komodo Dragon, the great symbol of this reserve, was the main reason for the protection of the area, although this protection was extended towards the protection of the flora and fauna of the region, with marine areas included. Currently deforestation by crops (especially palm oil) and the traffic of wood, are causing the disappearance of large wooded areas of Indonesia at high speed.
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Image: Komodo dragon in Indonesia, part of the Komodo National Park. Source: http://www.taringa.es

 

4. REFERENCES

 

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