Baa Atoll

Baa Atoll, Maldives, harbours globally significant biodiversity in its numerous reefs and demonstrates a long history of human interaction with the environment.

Declaration Date: 2011
Surface Area:
174,000 ha.
Location (latitude & longitude): 05,11 N 73,00E (centre of atoll)
Core area
: 3050 ha.
Buffer zone: 1658 ha
Transition area: 135,292 ha
Different existing zonation: Protected area, traditional use, multiple sustainable use.
Altitudinal range: (metres above sea level): 0 - 3m

Ecological Characteristics

© Atoll Ecosystem Project/Ministry of Housing & Environment
(Baa Atoll), Maldives

Baa Atoll, lies approximately 125km NW of Male’, the capital of the Maldives. It has a total area of approximately 1,200 km2. The atoll is comprised of 75 islands; 13 of these are inhabited with a combined population of approximately 12,000 people. Six islands have been developed as resorts; the remaining 57 islands are uninhabited. Baa Atoll, particularly its extensive coral reefs, harbours globally significant biodiversity including significant concentrations of whale sharks, manta rays and marine turtles, and also a unique diversity of benthic fauna, including rare pink hydrozoans corals (Distichopora nitida), Bryozoans (Bugula) and sea slugs (Tambja olivaria) that are only recorded from Baa atoll. Baa has a particularly high density of the ring-shaped reef forms called faroes, a peculiar reef structure unique to the Maldives, as well as other unique reef forms. Baa Atoll also has one of the largest areas of mangroves in the central part of the Maldivian atoll chain, and one of only two roosting sites in the Maldives for the frigate bird (more than 10,000 individuals).

The proposed core areas and buffer zones comprise 11 geographically separate units of coral reefs, islands and mangroves, which have been selected for their important biodiversity. These are surrounded by a continuous transition area comprising mainly reefs and lagoons, but also inhabited, uninhabited and resort islands.

The core area comprises of 9 legally protected separate units of coral reefs, islands and mangroves, which have been selected for their important biodiversity. Each unit has its proper buffer zone. The Biosphere reserve is delimited by a continuous transition area comprising mainly reefs and lagoons, but also inhabited, uninhabited and resort islands.

The most important human activities in the area are tourism (six resorts) and fisheries. Whilst resorts have become the main economic driver, tuna and reef fishing remains an important activity. Production of handicrafts and other materials for the tourist industry is also significant.


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