Big Bend

Big Bend Biosphere Reserve and National Park, situated in the big bend of the Rio Grande in western Texas, represents one of three biosphere reserves in the Chihuahuan Desert (among Jornada Biosphere Reserve in USA and Mapimí Biosphere Reserve in Mexico). The vegetation zones in Big Bend are mainly determined by elevation (533 – 2,388 meters above sea level), comprising mainly shrub deserts and grasslands as well as some woodlands and riverine vegetation.

Declaration Date: 1976
Surface Area: 283,247 ha
Administrative Division: Big Bend National Park National Park Service

Human Activities

The Big Bend Biosphere Reserve is largely a protected core area managed for conservation, public education, and recreation use.

Ecological Characteristics

Big Bend Biosphere Reserve and National Park, situated in the big bend of the Rio Grande in western Texas, represents one of three biosphere reserves in the Chihuahuan Desert (among Jornada Biosphere Reserve in USA and Mapimí Biosphere Reserve in Mexico).

The vegetation zones in Big Bend are mainly determined by elevation (533 – 2,388 meters above sea level), comprising mainly shrub deserts and grasslands as well as some woodlands and riverine vegetation.

All three biosphere reserves are located in areas traditionally dominated by a livestock raising economy. Today, they face a variety of resource management issues relating to sustainable development in desert ecosystems.

Problems are associated with grazing of livestock, air pollution, and water quality, poaching of plants and animals, and loss of habitats. One of the major programs in the Big Bend Biosphere Reserve is maintaining the area’s remarkable biodiversity, exemplified by some 58 endangered, threatened, and listed species and the occurrence of over 430 species of birds. A growing tourism industry is developing around Big Bend National Park. In nominating three biosphere reserves in the Chihuahuan Desert it was expected that cooperation would develop the knowledge and skills needed to manage the ecosystems of the Chihuahuan Desert for conservation and sustainable economic uses.

Today, mainly research and environmental education projects characterize this cooperation


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                                                                                      Last updated : May 2012

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