NETWORK OF BIOSPHERE RESERVES RECEIVES PRINCE OF ASTURIAS PRIZE FOR CONCORD 2001
Paris, October 25
(N°2001-115) – The World Network of Biosphere Reserves – presently 411
sites in 94 countries – will receive the prestigious Prince of Asturias Prize
for Concord, during a ceremony on Friday, October 26, in Oviedo, Spain. The
Prize is awarded to persons or institutions that have contributed to the
brotherhood of mankind, to the defense of freedom, or to the conservation and
protection of the heritage of humanity.
World Network of Biosphere Reserves covers areas or territories which encompass
terrestrial or coastal ecosystems, and are intended to reconcile biodiversity
conservation with the rational use of biological resources.
reserves are very diverse. Some of them are very well-known, such as France’s
Fontainebleau, the Serengeti/Ngorongoro in Tanzania, and Vesuvius in Italy.
amongst 37 entries from 22 countries, UNESCO’S World Network of Biosphere
Reserves Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) will receive the Prince of
Asturias Prize for Concord, tomorrow, in Oviedo, Spain. The prize consists of a
US$25,000 grant, and a sculpture by Joan Miró. The Prince of Asturias Prize,
one of the most prestigious in the Spanish-speaking world, is presented each
year in eight areas (communication, social sciences, arts, letters, technology
and scientific research, international co-operation, sports, and
recipients of the Prize for Concord, which was first presented in 1986, include
the Royal Academy of Spain (2000), Doctors Without Borders (1991), the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the World Wide Fund for Nature
(WWF) in 1988.
Secretariat of the MAB is particularly delighted that the World Network of
Biosphere Reserves was nominated for this prize by a local group, working inside
one of the biosphere reserves. This illustrates the commitment of local
communities to their own biosphere reserves, as well as the importance of the
contribution of the World Network as a whole in improving the relationship
between the inhabitants and nature,” declared Peter Bridgewater, Programme
Secretary and Director of the Division of Ecological Sciences at UNESCO.
many years, the creation of protected areas, national parks or reserves only
aimed to protect fauna and flora – sometimes to the detriment of indigenous
populations which were ignored or driven out. The Biosphere Reserves of the MAB
Programme reflect another vision of nature conservation which is systematically
inclusive of human participation, and which attempts to reconcile conservation
with sustainable use of biological resources. Long before expressions such as
“biodiversity” and “sustainable development” became popular, the first
reserves were laying the groundwork in this direction.
country have a significant number of biosphere reserves: The Russian Federation
has 25; China, 21; Spain, 20; Germany, 13; Australia, 12; Mexico, 12; Argentina,
10; and France, 10. Moreover, it is not unusual for biosphere reserves to
straddle the borders of two countries or more.
World Network is composed of several regional networks, such as AfriMAB,
IberoMAB, EuroMAB or ArabMAB. New reserves are named to the network each year:
In September 2001, 18 new sites in 13 countries were added, and two
previously-existing reserves were extended. Placing these biosphere reserves in
a network is intended to encourage the exchange of information and experience,
and to facilitate joint activities in the areas, such as scientific research,
environmental education and the training of specialists. For example, the East
Asian Network of Biosphere Reserves is developing co-operation among the people
working in biosphere reserves in China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation.
regional distribution of biosphere reserves throughout the world today is as
follows: Africa, 42 sites in 21 countries; the Arab States, 13 reserves in 6
countries; Asia and the Pacific, 76 sites in 18 countries; Europe and North
America, 216 reserves in 33 countries; Latin America and the Caribbean, 64 sites
in 16 countries.
reserves share some essential characteristics. They are areas with terrestrial
and/or coastal ecosystems which fulfill three fundamental complementary and
interactive functions: 1) conservation, to ensure the preservation of
landscapes, ecosystems, species and biological diversity; 2) development, to
encourage sustainable economic development within the framework of local
ecology, sociology, and culture; 3) logistic support, for research, continuous
monitoring, training and education regarding conservation and development that
can be applied at the local, regional and global levels.
as experimental sites, all biosphere reserves feature three interdependent
zones: a core area generally free of human activity; a buffer zone that
surrounds, or is contiguous to, the core area and contributes to its protection;
and finally, a transition area, where agricultural activities and/or human
settlements exist and contribute to the region’s socio-economic development.
management systems are applied to each zone and to each type of ecosystem. These
systems aim to involve numerous protagonists and users. In this way, farmers and
livestock breeders are able to work alongside forestry managers, scientists and
engineers, as they do in the Mananara Reserve (Madagascar). They also attempt to strike a sometimes
difficult balance between the different interests at stake.
core areas of some biosphere reserves include sites of universal value, which
meet the criteria of the World Heritage Convention, as is the case with the
biosphere reserve of the Danube Delta in Romania, whose core areas - with a rich
population of water fowl – have been listed as a World Heritage site.
Similarly, the 25-million-hectare Pantanal Biosphere Reserve in Brazil contains
15 core areas, one of which is also a World Heritage site.
Reserve Network was created in 1976 by UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB),
an international programme of research, education, and dissemination of data
concerning the biosphere. Launched in 1971, the MAB Programme operates through
more than 100 national committees of scientists and decision-makers. Member
States join the Programme on a voluntary basis. The project reflects the
realization that human survival on Earth hinges on the rational exploitation of
the planet’s resources. It seeks to establish a culture and a philosophy of
harmony between man and his environment.
information and a complete list of Biosphere Reserves is available on the Web,