New Network of Biosphere Reserves to promote the relationship between Mediterranean countries

Launch of the Network of Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves (RRBMed) in the Castle of Castellet in Barcelona, Spain. © Abertis Foundation

A total of sixty biosphere reserves from fourteen Mediterranean countries — Algeria, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Tunisia — have launched on 19 June 2015 at the UNESCO International Centre for Mediterranean Biosphere Reserve the Network of Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves (RRBMed).

The RRBMed aims to highlight the biosphere reserves of these fourteen countries through case materials, with a view to promoting their natural and cultural heritage, strengthening ties and sharing knowledge between the biosphere reserves, reinforcing north-south relations, and developing links between academia, civil society and business.

Twenty new sites added to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves

© UNESCO/Daniele Soncin
The Po Delta biosphere reserve (Italy)

The International Co-ordinating Council of the MAB Programmehas added 20 new sites to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, bringing their total number to 651 sites, including 15 transboundary sites, in 120 countries.

Myanmar had its first biosphere reserve inscribed this year. These additions were made by the Council during a meeting taking place in Paris from 8 to 12 June.

MAB Council meets to designate new Biosphere Reserves and discuss new Strategy and Action Plan for the next ten years

© Kazakhstan MAB National Committee

The 27th Session of the International Co-ordinating Council (ICC) of the Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB) opened today at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. During the session (from 8 to 12 June) the MAB ICC will decide on the designation of new Biosphere Reserves in a total of 18 countries: Algeria, Argentina, Bolivia, China, Ethiopia, France, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Portugal and Vietnam.

The International Coordinating Council will also discuss the new Strategy and Action Plan that will guide the MAB Programme and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in the period 2015-2025.

International Meeting on Transboundary Biosphere Reserves in Europe

The management of Transboundary Biosphere Reserves (TBRs) is the main focus of the international meeting organized by the MAB National Committees of France and Germany, the Transboundary Vosges du Nord/ Pfälzerwald Biosphere Reserve, the MAB Secretariat and the UNESCO Venice Office in Vosges du Nord Biosphere Reserve (France), from 2 to 5 June 2015.

Fourteen TBRs have been designated by UNESCO in 23 countries in Europe, Africa and Latin America. TBRs provide a tool for common management and allow the establishment of cooperation projects on the management of socio-ecological systems over borders.

This meeting will provide the opportunity to discuss a broad range of issues on TBRs management and cooperation institutional mechanisms and governance and promotion, visibility and recognition outside    the UNESCO/MAB field.  

EuroMAB opens meeting in Estonia to discuss biosphere reserves: from heritage to sustainable innovation

EuroMAB Meeting 'Biosphere Reserves: from heritage to sustainable' innovation. ©Vindelälven Biosphere Reserve

EuroMAB – the largest and oldest of the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) networks, which includes European and North American countries – opened its 2015 meeting today in Haapsalu, Estonia. During the five-day meeting countries will discuss key issues around the new MAB Strategy (2015-2025) to be examined at the forthcoming 27th session of the MAB International Coordinating Council to take place in Paris in June 2015.

The participants will also examine the implementation of the MAB Exit Strategy and the preliminary results from the communication and branding EuroMAB project. The contribution of EuroMAB to the preparation of the World Congress of Biosphere Reserves (Lima, March 2016) will also constitute a main topic of discussion during this event.

Peru and the MAB Programme announce the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves

Logo of the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves.

The Ministry of Environment of Peru (MINAM) through its National Service of Natural Areas Protected by the State (SERNANP) and UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme jointly announce the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves, due to take place in Lima, Peru, on 14-17 March 2016.

The objective of this Congress is to review implementation of the Madrid Action Plan for Biosphere Reserves 2008-2013, the Seville Strategy and the Statutory Framework of 1995. The Congress will assess lessons learned and new challenges faced by the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, and will develop and launch an Action Plan for Biosphere Reserves for 2016-2025.

Biosphere Reserves, sustainable development opportunities for local communities

SERNANP/Workshop ‘Biosphere reserves, an opportunity to promote differentiated products and services’ (Lima, Peru, March 2015)

The Peruvian National Service of Protected Natural Areas (SERNANP), MAB and the German International Cooperation (GIZ) jointly organized with the suppor of the Spanish Autonomous Authority for National Parks (OAPN), the workshop ‘Biosphere reserves, an opportunity to promote differentiated products and services’, held in Lima from 11 to 13 March 2015. The workshop was attended by representatives of regional governments, mayors and producer associations of the four Peruvian biosphere reserves, as well as representatives of Colombian and Spanish biosphere reserves.

The Director of SERNANP, Mr Pedro Gamboa, stated that this event constituted a milestone on the long road the International Congress of Biosphere Reserves. The event, to be held in March 2016 in Peru, will serve as a platform to share successful conservation and sustainable development experiences from biosphere reserves in the region.

Applications for the UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation are now open

© UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Award

The UNESCO Sultant Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation is awarded every second year for oustanding contributins by individuals, groups of individuals, institues or organizations in the field of environmental preservation. The prize consists of a diploma and a financial reward of US dollar 70,000, donated graciously by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said of Oman.

Candidatures should be presented in English or French. The deadline for submitting nominations for the 2015 Prize is 15 June 2015.

The Island of Principe Biosphere Reserve has been cleaned of 200,000 plastic bottles since the beginning of the ‘No Plastic’ campaign

© Principe Biosfera

In February 2014, the Island of Principe Biosphere Reserve (São Tome and Principe) and the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme launched an awareness and mobilization campaign entitled ‘No plastic: A small gesture in our hands’. The aim of the campaign is to reduce plastic waste and promote access to drinking water in the biosphere reserve.

After a year-long campaign, a total of 200,000 plastic bottles were removed, thirteen water fountains were established, and 6,000 reusable stainless steel ‘Principe Biosphere Bottles’ were distributed among the local population.

The Advisory Committee for Biosphere Reserves met to review submissions for new biosphere reserves

UNESCO/Clayson Lima

The International Advisory Committee for Biosphere Reserves, the primary scientific and technical Committee body advising the International Coordinating Council (ICC)of the MAB Programme and its World Network of Biosphere Reserves, met from 2 to 5 February 2015, at UNESCO Headquarters.

The international expert group reviewed submissions for new biosphere reserves, extensions to existing ones, periodic reviews of sites already included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), as well as the functioning of the WNBR, in accordance with the Seville Strategy and the Statutory Framework for the WNBR and the Madrid Action Plan.

The Committee provided recommendations on the discussed matters to the MAB-ICC, which will meet at the UNESCO Headquarters, in Paris, France from 8 to 12 June 2015.

New 2014-2015 map of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves

2014-2015 map of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves

The new 2014-2015 map of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves shows the worldwide distribution of the 631 biosphere reserves located in 119 countries, including 14 transboundary/transcontinental sites. The map is available in English, French, Spanish, and German and also includes an overview of the objectives, tasks and structures of these areas.

The world map was prepared by the UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme with the generous support of the German Commission for UNESCO.

MAB launches a project to enhance coastal and island management in Latin America

Miguel Clüsener-Godt
Kick-off meeting of the BRESEP Project, Chiloe National Park, Chile.

Organized by the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) and the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF), the kick-off meeting for the project ‘Biosphere Reserves as a Tool for Coastal and Island Management in the South-East Pacific Region (BRESEP)’ took place in Castro, Chiloe Island in Chile from 10 to 12 December 2014.

Financed by the Flemish Government of Belgium and coordinated by the MAB Programme, this three-year project aims to create and strengthen existing biosphere reserves in coastal areas and islands of the eastern South Pacific in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Peru. It also aims to promote biosphere reserves as tools for innovative projects to bring added value to local socio-economic activities, and to sensitize and build the capacity of stakeholders in the area.

Exhibition and policy brief on climate change impacts on world mountains presented at COP 20 in Peru

UNESCO Lima office
Official opening of the Exhibition 'Climate change impacts on mountain regions of the world'

On Tuesday, 2 December 2014 the exhibition ‘Climate change impacts on mountain regions of the world’ was officially opened by Mr Mariano Castro, the Peruvian Vice Minister of the Environment, Ms Susana Villagran, the Mayor of Lima, and Ms Magaly Robalinos, the Head of the UNESCO Lima office.

Organized on the occasion of the 20th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 20) the outdoor exhibition was developed jointly by the Man and the Biosphere Programme and the International Hydrological Programme. The exhibition features satellite images of different mountain regions worldwide and highlight the implications of climate change for mountain ecosystems, water resources and livelihoods.

A Policy Brief that provide decision makers with the sound scientific basis needed to facilitate decision-making and effective policies to address the impacts of climate change was launched officially on this occasion.

Ceremony for the successful evaluation and extension of the UNESCO Rhön Biosphere Reserve

© Biosphärenreservats Rhön
Ceremony for the evaluation and extension of the UNESCO Rhön Biosphere Reserve (Germany).

On 20 November 2014, in Bad Kissingen, Germany, elected officials, guests of honour and stakeholders from Bavaria, Hesse and Thuringia attended a ceremony that certified the successful evaluation and extension of the Rhön Biosphere Reserve.

The Rhön Biosphere Reserve underwent its second evaluation in 2013 and the subsequent report was report was approved by the International Co-ordinating Council of the MAB Programme in 2014. At this time, the Council also agreed to a significant extension of the Rhön Biosphere Reserve on the Bavarian side. Thus, the area in Lower Franconia has almost doubled. Today, the biosphere reserve covers a total of 243,323 ha, 3,900 ha of which comprises the core zones.

The Director of the Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences and Secretary of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, Mr Han Qunli, acknowledged the importance of this twofold success, noting that ‘the extension of the Rhön Biosphere Reserve demonstrates its dynamic and collective effort and commitment, itself a strong a sign of success’.

Exhibition and policy brief on climate change impacts on world mountains presented at COP 20 in Peru

UNESCO Lima office
Official opening of the Exhibition 'Climate change impacts on mountain regions of the world'

On Tuesday, 2 December 2014 the exhibition ‘Climate change impacts on mountain regions of the world’ was officially opened by Mr Mariano Castro, the Peruvian Vice Minister of the Environment, Ms Susana Villagran, the Mayor of Lima, and Ms Magaly Robalinos, the Head of the UNESCO Lima office.

Organized on the occasion of the 20th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 20) the outdoor exhibition was developed jointly by the Man and the Biosphere Programme and the International Hydrological Programme. The exhibition features satellite images of different mountain regions worldwide and highlight the implications of climate change for mountain ecosystems, water resources and livelihoods.

A Policy Brief that provide decision makers with the sound scientific basis needed to facilitate decision-making and effective policies to address the impacts of climate change was launched officially on this occasion.

Capacity Development Session on climate change in island and coastal Biosphere Reserves

Within the framework of the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 (Sydney, Australia, 12–19 November 2014), the Man and the Biosphere Programme is organizing a Capacity Development Session on climate change in island and coastal Biosphere Reserves on 11 November 2014.

The goal of this session is to discuss experiences and success stories of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, especially with regard to community-based management of biosphere reserves that integrate the management of natural resources with sustainable economic development. The session will also explore the use of Biosphere Reserves as living laboratories for sustainable development and the particular needs and challenges facing the region. It will also discuss whether transboundary and/or interregional cooperation can be improved and identify the main mechanisms for interaction. Finally, the session will examine ways to support and link new Biosphere Reserves and regional networks.

Director-General participates in the information session on the Category 2 Centre on Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves

© UNESCO/Pilar Chiang-Joo

On 7 October, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, took part in an information session for Permanent Delegations and Observers to UNESCO on the Category 2 Centre on Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves, entitled 'Two Coastlines United by Their Culture and Nature', under the auspices of UNESCO.

The meeting took place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris with the participation of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain to UNESCO, HE Mr Juan Manuel de Barandica y Luxán, the President of the Abertis Foundation, Mr Salvador Alemany, the Director of the Abertis Foundation, Dr Sergi Loughney, the Director of the Autonomous Organization of National Parks of Spain, Mr Basilio Rada, and the Scientific Representative of the Category II Centre, Professor Marti Boada.
 
This is the first category 2 centre to be associated with the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme. 

Botanists of the twenty-first century: Roles, challenges and opportunities

The conference ‘Botanists of the twenty-first century: Roles, challenges and opportunities’, organized by the MAB Programme and its partners, is taking place from 22–25 September 2014 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France.

The conference aims to develop a forward-looking perspective for the botanical profession in the twenty-first century. It will focus on tropical and temperate botanical issues, identifying skills to be maintained or developed and current training needs. It will also define ways for professionals to interact with other disciplines and improve communication with the general public and policy-makers.

The conference will bring together participants from various disciplines, including experts from education, science, academia, policy, NGOs, communities and business, as well as development partners from different regions of the world.

Key events include a screening of the documentary film Once Upon a Forest and the exhibition Through the Eyes of a Flower.

Biosphere Reserves as a Tool for Coastal and Island Management in the South-East Pacific Region

© Miguel Clüsener-Godt.
Puerto Williams, Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve, Chile

With the generous support of the Flemish Government of Belgium, the Man and the Biosphere Programme is initiating a three-year project entitled ‘Biosphere Reserves as a Tool for Coastal and Island Management in the South-East Pacific Region’ (BRESEP).

The objective of the project is to create and reinforce existing biosphere reserves on the coastal areas and islands of the west coast of Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Peru. The project also aims to promote biosphere reserves as tools for innovative projects to bring added value to local socio-economic activities, and to sensitize and build the capacity of stakeholders in the area.

This project will be officially launched at a meeting held on 10–12 December 2014 in the city of Castro on Chiloe Island, Chile.

UNESCO’s Director-General handed over the certificate for Argentina’s 14th Biosphere Reserve

Valdés Biosphere Reserve certificate delivery ceremony. © UNESCO/Alberto Hernandez-Salinas.

On the 8th of August 2014, during a ceremony held at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, Ms. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, handed over the Valdés Biosphere Reserve Certificate to Dr. Martín Buzzi, Governor of Chubut Province, Argentina. H. Exc. Miguel Estrella, Ambassador of Argentina as well as other Members of the Argentinian Permanent Delegation to UNESCO and representatives from the Argentinian Embassy in Paris were also present at the ceremony.

The International Co-ordinating Council of the MAB Programme recognized the Valdés Biosphere Reserve as part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves at its 26th session (East Vättern Landscape Biosphere Reserve in Jönköping, Sweden, from 10 to 13 June 2014). This is the 14th Argentinian biosphere reserve to be part of the Network.  

Inauguration of transboundary biosphere reserve honours twenty years of cooperation between France and Italy

Ms Barbara Degani, Italian State Secretary of Environment and Protection of Land and Sea, Ms Ségolène Royal, French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, and Mr Getachew Engida, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO at the inauguration of the Montviso Transboundary biosphere reserve. © Qunli Han.

The inauguration ceremony for the Mont Viso Transboundary Biosphere Reserve took place in Col Agnel on 6 July 2014. Mr Getachew Engida, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO, presented the certificate of designation to the local authorities of the two countries, Italy and France, in the presence of Ms Ségolène Royal, French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, and Ms Barbara Degani, Italian State Secretary of Environment and Protection of Land and Sea.

This designation honours over twenty years of cooperation between the Queyras and Po Cuneo parks and more than ten years of efforts and cooperation to make this transboundary biosphere reserve a reality. The reserve is based on strong historical and cultural relations between the mountain communities of both countries.

Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves Issue a Statement after Meeting in Palawan, Philippines

© Miguel Clüsener-Godt

Representatives of more then twenty biosphere reserves from the five continents attended the Fourth Meeting of the Global Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves, which took place in the Palawan Biosphere Reserve in the Philippines from 16 to 21 June 2014. The meeting was organized by the Man and the Biosphere Programme, the Palawan Centre for Sustainable Development, Jeju Island Biosphere Reserve and Menorca Biosphere Reserve. Its aim was to discuss the main challenges and threats facing these sites, in particular water, energy and food self-sufficiency, climate change, natural disasters and waste management, and to share experiences and potential solutions.

On the final day of the meeting, the participants issued a joint statement covering the main themes discussed, including: current and completed research projects; a planned training course in October 2014; a casebook study comprising a wide range of information and experiences, which was presented at the meeting, participation at the 6th IUCN World Parks Congress (Sydney, Australia, November 2014;) and the organization of the Fifth Meeting of the Global Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves.

Renisla 2014 Forum will demonstrate that 100% renewable energy is possible

© Fuerteventura biosphere reserve

The Renisla 2014 Forum will take place on the island of El Hierro Biosphere Reserve (Spain) on 25–26 June 2014, under the slogan ‘100% renewable energy: a possible future’. The meeting will bring together global experts to exchange knowledge, technology and experiences from different sites moving towards energy self-sufficiency based on renewables.

UNESCO sites are real examples of places where 100% renewable solutions have been developed with the participation of local communities. Illustrative examples include the biosphere reserves of El Hierro, Jeju, the Galapagos Islands, Grosses Walsertal, Pellworm, Altaisky and the Lakshadweep Islands.

The UNESCO Renforus initiative, which to promote sustainable energy in UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage sites, will also be presented at this Forum.

Thirteen sites added to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves

© UNESCO/Rich Howorth

Thirteen new sites have been added to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, which now numbers 631 sites in 119 countries, including 14 transboundary sites. The new biosphere reserves were designated by the International Coordinating Council of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme, at its 26th session in Jönkoping (Sweden) and in the East Vättern Landscape biosphere reserve, from 10 to 13 June. With the new inscriptions, Albania and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia join the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

The new biosphere reserves are: Valdes Biosphere Reserve (Argentina), Mount Chilbo (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), Bosque Seco (Ecuador), Mont-Viso / Area della Biosfera del Monviso transboundary biosphere reserve (France/Italy), Sila (Italy), Minami-Alps (Japan), Tadami (Japan), Ak-Zhayik (Kazakhstan), Katon-Karagay (Kazakhstan), Crocker Range (Malaysia), Ohrid-Prespa Transboundary Reserve (Republic of Albania / The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), Brighton and Lewes Downs (United Kingdom), Bioma Pampa-Quebradas del Norte (Uruguay).

MAB Council meets in Sweden to designate new Biosphere Reserves

© UNESCO/Alberto Hernandez
26th Session of the International Co-ordinating Council (ICC) of the Man and Biosphere Programme, Jönköping, East Vättern Landscape Biosphere Reserve, Sweden

The 26th Session of the International Co-ordinating Council (ICC) of the Man and Biosphere Programme opened today in Jönköping, East Vättern Landscape Biosphere Reserve, Sweden. During the session (10 to 13 June) the International Coordinating Council will decide on the designation of new Biosphere Reserves and extensions to existing Reserves in a total of 22 countries: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, China, Ecuador, Greece, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

The International Coordinating Council will also examine applications for the $6,000 Michel Batisse Award for excellence in the management of a biosphere reserve. It will also select the MAB Awards for young scientists. Every year, ten young researchers receive awards of up to US$ 5,000 to support their research into ecosystems, natural resources and biodiversity.


Man and Biosphere Programme exhibition on climate change effects on mountains presented at the World Mountain Forum

UNESCO/Maria Rosa Cardenas
Exhibition ‘Climate change impacts on mountain regions of the world’ in Cusco.

The World Mountain Forum 2014 (Cusco, Peru, from 22 to 25 May) brings together stakeholders from around the globe to exchange their experience, promote collaborative action and foster political dialogue among different levels of government and society on sustainable mountain development.

The exhibition ‘Climate change impacts on mountain regions of the world’ will be presented during the Forum, at Cusipata Square in Cusco. It was developed jointly by the Man and Biosphere Programme and UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme, with the generous support of the Government of Flanders (Belgium). The exhibition shows satellite images from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and Planet Action, and highlights the critical functions of mountains, and the implications of climate change for mountain ecosystems, water resources and livelihoods.

Mangrove ecosystems for nature protection and food productivity

© Joe Bunni

Mangrove forests are relatively rare covering only 152,000 km2 worldwide in 123 tropical and sub-tropical nations and territories. Healthy mangrove forests contribute to the food security of millions of people around the world through the production of numerous fishery and forest products, and by supporting commercial coastal and offshore fisheries and providing locations for aquaculture.  

The health of these forest ecosystems is a key priority of the Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme, which has undertaken several mangrove restoration projects and studies in different biosphere reserves in relation to nature protection and food productivity. The programme has been invited to present these activities at the ‘International Conference on Halophytes for Food Security in Dry Lands’, organized by the University of Qatar in Doha from 12 to 13 May 2014.

The conference will provide international experts with a forum to discuss new ideas and approaches to improving food and water security. It will also establish working groups to assist the University of Qatar and the Qatari Government in meeting these challenges over the long term.

Statement by the Pacific Biosphere Reserve Network on the role of Biosphere Reserves in Sustainable Development in the Pacific

UNESCO/Miguel Clüsener-Godt
4th meeting of the Pacific Biosphere Reserve Network.

The 4th Pacific Biosphere Reserve Network (PacMAB) Meeting took place in Nadi, Fiji, from 23 to 25 April 2014. On the last day of the meeting members of PacMAB issued a statement on the role of biosphere reserves in sustainable development in the Pacific.

The statement affirms the importance of creating partnerships with other agencies to work towards integrating biodiversity conservation management and sustainable development in the Pacific region. It also encourages recognition and appreciation of the unique cultural, social and environmental values and customs of the Pacific Islands among the international community.

The participants also agreed to take steps towards identifying pilot sites for new biosphere reserves in the light of the outcomes of discussions at the Nadi meeting, and to actively promote the concept of biosphere reserves as a significant tool for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in Pacific Islands States.

Pacific Biosphere Reserve Network meet to discuss its role in sustainable development

UNESCO/Miguel Clüsener-Godt -
Participants from UNESCO, Fiji, Australia, Republic of Korea, Federate States of Micronesia, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Palau, Nauru at the 4th Pacific Biosphere Reserve Network meeting in Nadi, Fiji.

For the fourth time, representatives, managers and researchers of the Pacific Biosphere Reserve Network (PacMAB) will meet from 23 to 25 April 2014 in Nadi, Fiji, to discuss the role of biosphere reserves in sustainable development in the Pacific.

The objective of the meeting is to assess the progress, accomplishment and key challenges of the Madrid Action Plan (MAP) for Pacific biosphere reserves, as well as to identify post-MAP follow-up actions. During the meeting, participants will also work to identify new ways to engage with current biosphere reserves, while working to increase the number of reserves in the Pacific.

UNESCO’s Director-General inaugurates in Spain the first MAB Category 2 Centre for Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves


On 5 April 2014, the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova, together with H.E. Mr Juan Manuel de Barandica y Luxán, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of the Kingdom of Spain to UNESCO and Mr Salvador Alemany, President of the Abertis Group, signed a tripartite agreement establishing the UNESCO Centre on Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves in Castellet i Gornal, Barcelona, Spain.

This first Centre of the MAB Programme under UNESCO auspices will act as a platform for training and transferring advanced knowledge on environmental and societal issues between developed and developing countries in the Mediterranean basin and it will facilitate joint programmes between biospheres reserves.

Over 48,500 used plastic bottles have been collected in the Island of Principe


In February, the Biosphere Reserve of the Island of Príncipe (São Tomé and Príncipe) and the MAB programme launched an awareness and mobilization campaign entitled ‘No plastic. A small gesture in our hands’. The campaign aims to reduce plastic waste and promote access to drinking water in the biosphere reserve.

Fifty plastic bottles can be exchanged for a ‘Principe Biosphere Bottle’, a reusable stainless steel bottle made from safe, plastic-free materials. These bottles can be replenished at various treated water points installed across the island of Principe.

Since the campaign began over 48,500 used plastic bottles have been collected and 1,200 ‘Principe Biosphere Bottles’ distributed to the local population.

The Advisory Committee for Biosphere Reserves met to review submissions for new biosphere reserves

20th Meeting of the International Advisory Committee for Biosphere Reserves, UNESCO Paris, March 2014. ©UNESCO/P. Chiang-Joo

The International Advisory Committee for Biosphere Reserves, the primary scientific and technical Committee body advising the International Coordinating Council (ICC)of the MAB Programme and its World Network of Biosphere Reserves, met from 17 to 20 March 2014, at UNESCO Headquarters.

The international expert group reviewed submissions for new biosphere reserves, extensions to existing ones, periodic reviews of sites already included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), as well as the functioning of the WNBR, in accordance with the Seville Strategy and the Statutory Framework for the WNBR and the Madrid Action Plan.

The Committee will provide recommendations on the discussed matters to the MAB-ICC, which will meet in Jönköping, East Vättern Landscape Biosphere Reserve, Sweden, from 10–13 June 2014

Promoting the use of solar energy by empowering women of remote rural communities in Volcans Biosphere Reserve, Rwanda

Handling solar panels in Rwanda. ©Julien Simery

In February 2014, MAB and its local partner, the ‘Gorilla Organization’, presented solar equipment (i.e. solar panels, batteries, solar lanterns and electronic components) to a village in the Volcans Biosphere Reserve in Rwanda, home to the endangered Mountain Gorillas. The solar equipment will provide improved access to energy and security, and over the coming months will be installed in individual homes by local grandmothers, who were sent to India for six months in 2012 to train as fully qualified solar engineers. The training was provided through a partnership with Barefoot College in Tilonia, India, and was supported by the Government of India.

This community initiative, which combines economic development and conservation, embodies the MAB approach. This project will help to reach out to local communities and engage them in the conservation of nearby protected areas. Providing communities with alternative opportunities also reduces pressure on the natural habitat of the gorillas, of which only 880 remain in the world, as the villagers are less reliant on resources found in the forests of the Volcans Biosphere Reserve. Thanks to the success of this project, the approach will likely be replicated in other areas where energy access remains a challenge.

Tribute to Jacques Weber

Mr Jacques Weber. © UNESCO

The MAB Secretariat is greatly saddened to inform you, with regret, of the death of Jacques Weber, anthropologist and economist, Director of Research at the International Centre for Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD) in France, former Director of the French Biodiversity Institute, Vice-president of the French national MAB Committee and President of the association Les petits débrouillards

Atypical, visionary, free, provocative and generous, with a great sense of humour, Jacques Weber spent his life observing human behaviour and the societies in which he lived and worked. He was driven, first and foremost, by the desire to understand what made people behave the way they did; he tried to slip into the skin of others to see things from their perspective, to look beyond appearances.

We address our sincere condolences to his wife, son and grandchildren. The itinerary of Jacques Weber, his work and his network, is a source of inspiration to us. Like an untiring gardener, he sowed seeds everywhere on our fair planet. Jacques had a gift for attracting talent from all kinds of disciplines and horizons and of all ages. There is no doubt that others will take up the banner. We would like to thank him for all the things he initiated, enriched, passed on and shared with us all those years by our side. Already, we miss his uniqueness and his originality terribly.   

World Wildlife Day, raising awareness of the world's wild fauna and flora

© M. Graye, IGCP.
Mother and child Mountain Gorillas, Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Sixty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly decided in 2013 to proclaim 3 March, the day of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as World Wildlife Day, to celebrate and raise awareness of the world's wild fauna and flora.

The General Assembly reaffirmed in its resolution the intrinsic value of wildlife and its various contributions, including ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic, to sustainable development and human well-being, and recognized the important role of CITES in ensuring that international trade does not threaten the species' survival.

Some of the most emblematic and threatened wildlife species, including mountain gorillas, pandas, tigers and different species of rhino live in Biosphere Reserves around the world. The Man and Biosphere Programme and its World Network of Biosphere Reserves are playing a key role in wildlife conservation through different projects and initiatives, one of the most exemplary being the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP).

Related information:

The Spanish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, and the MAB Programme officially certified three new Spanish biosphere reserves

The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment of Spain, Miguel Arias, handed out the diploma which certifies Real Sitio de San Ildefonso–El Espinar as a new biosphere reserve. © OAPN

On 5 February 2014 the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Environment of Spain, Miguel Arias Cañete, presided over a ceremony, held in Madrid, at which the Man and the Biosphere programme granted official certification to three new Spanish biosphere reserves: Terras de l’Ebre, Real Sitio de San Ildefonso–El Espinar, and Marinas Coruñesas and Terras de Mandaean. These three new  reserves were nominated in May 2013 by the International Coordinating Council of the MAB Programme.

With the inclusion of these three areas in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, Spain is now the second country in the world with the most biosphere reserves (45), just behind the United States with 47 biosphere reserves. These 45 protected areas comprise 8.6% of Spanish territory and represent 7.2% of the World Network.

New promotional video about the Initiative ‘Mangroves and Sustainable Development’

El Manglar from Plan de Acción - CPPS on Vimeo.

As part of the Initiative on Mangroves and Sustainable Development, managed by the UNESCO Quito Office in partnership with the Permanent Commission for the South Pacific (CPPS) and Conservation International - Ecuador, a video has been prepared highlighting the key reasons for this joint initiative.

Mangroves are a unique ecosystem of great ecological value offering multiple ecosystem goods and services: coastal protection against sea erosion, water purification, contribution to climate change mitigation through carbon build-up, scenic beauty, habitat and shelter for molluscs species and fish hatchery, among others.

This initiative aims to promote the conservation and sustainable use of mangroves, to value these ecosystem goods and services, to address economic issues, and to emphasize the cultural, social and spiritual aspects of mangroves.

Call to contribute to the Madrid Action Plan evaluation (Deadline: 31 January 2014)

© UNESCO/ MAB
Madrid Action Plan for Biosphere Reserves (2008-2013)

In 2008 the 3rd World Congress of Biosphere Reserves and the International Co-ordinating Council of the Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme agreed upon and adopted the Madrid Action Plan (MAP). It sets the agenda for the MAB Programme and its World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) in the period 2008-2013, focusing on developing models for global, national and local sustainability, and use of biosphere reserves as learning sites for policy professionals, decision-makers, research and scientific communities, management practitioners and stakeholder communities to work together to translate global principles of sustainable development into locally relevant praxis.

The evaluation of the Madrid Action Plan is currently ongoing. Biosphere Reserve managers/focal points, representatives of the MAB National Committees and the Regional/Thematic Networks to are kindly requested to contribute to the survey before 31 of January 2014. Please contact Ms. Popelier (l.popelier(at)unesco.org) for any questions or further details.

Thank you for your valuable contribution!

Tribute to Robert Barbault

© MNHN/J.-C. Domenech
- Professor Robert Barbault, President of MAB France

The Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences, and in particular its Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme, wish to express their deep sadness and regret at the passing of Robert Barbault on Thursday 12 December 2013.

Robert Barbault was Professor Emeritus at both the Pierre and Marie Curie University and the National Museum of Natural History in Paris (France), where he directed the Department of Ecology and Biodiversity Management from 2002 to 2012. His fields of research and expertise spanned ecology, the dynamics of biodiversity and conservation biology.

He had been President of the MAB National Committee since 2002. Over the past decade, he had injected fresh impetus into the committee and heightened its visibility by mobilizing both the broad scientific community and local actors, including decision-makers around the challenges of sustainable development and biodiversity. Under his presidency, three new French biosphere reserves were created. He was convinced that biosphere reserves were necessary references for putting sustainable development into practice and that the World Network of Biosphere Reserves deserved to play a greater role on the international scene. He was always accessible and adept at mobilizing his team at key international MAB meetings, to which he made substantive contributions. Recently, he had chaired the international working group responsible for updating the nomination and periodic review forms of biosphere reserves.

Robert Barbault was a man driven by curiosity, a man who was open to all forms of knowledge. He was discreet and a man of great sensitivity. He was known for his simplicity, his kindness and sense of commitment. He will be sorely missed by the MAB programme, which owes him a lot. We would like to convey our sincere condolences to his wife and children, to his family and friends, in the name of the extended MAB family, who appreciated and respected him. We thank him for his profound, committed and visionary work, which we shall pursue in his memory.

Video: Tribute by Gilles Boeuf at UNESCO (only available in french version)

People and nature - better together!

People and nature - better together from futerra on Vimeo.

Biosphere reserves are places with a specific purpose: to find creative, effective ways for people and nature to thrive together. They serve as "living laboratories" for testing and demonstrating integrated management of land, water and biodiversity.

This film, produced by the EuroMAB network, tells the story of these places, and shows that a sustainable way of living is not only possible, but already happening.

Polish and South African institutions awarded with 2013 UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation

Mr Adam Wasiak, Director-General of the State Forests National Forest Holding; Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO; H.E. Dr. Madiha Al Shaibani, Minister of Education, Sultanate of Oman; Harriet Davies-Mostert, Head of Conservation Science Endangered Wildlife Trust.

The State Forests National Forest Holding of Poland and South Africa’s Endangered Wildlife Trust were recognized during the opening of the World Science Forum on 24 November in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation. Delivered by the government of Oman in partnership with UNESCO the Prize consists of a certificate and $70,000. 

The State Forests National Forest Holding of Poland manages more than 75 per cent of the country’s forests. The holding plays a major role in ensuring the sustainable management of forests while raising public awareness of environmental concerns and the need for ecological conservation. Most of the forests situated in Poland’s ten biosphere reserves are managed by the holding.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust of South Africa develops and implements innovative environmental protection projects. In close cooperation with local communities, the trust works for the preservation of ecosystems and endangered species through research, environmental education, training and awareness-raising.

People and nature - better together

Biosphere reserves are sites established by countries and recognized under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science. They are places with a specific purpose: to find creative, effective ways for people and nature to thrive together.

Produced by Futerra and funded by the Foundation des Cow Boy Fringuants (Canada), this film tells the story of biosphere reserves, and shows that a sustainable way of living is not only possible, but already happening.

Showing Climate Change Impacts on Mountains of the World

With the generous support of the Government of Flanders (Belgium), the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB) and the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) developed an exhibition that features satellite images of different mountain regions worldwide, many of which are UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.

The exhibition is displayed on the exterior fences of UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris until 20 December 2013 and It highlights the critical functions of mountains, and the implications of climate change for mountain ecosystems, water resources and livelihoods.

This exhibition is a contribution to the International Year of Water Cooperation (2013) and was done with the following partners: The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), The European Space Agency (ESA), The United States Geological Survey (USGS) and Planet Action.

Training island and coastal area Biosphere Reserves managers for better transfer of technical knowledge

Jeju Island Biosphere Reserve, Republic of Korea

Created in 2009, the World Network of Island and Coastal Area Biosphere Reserves aims to study, implement and disseminate island and coastal strategies to preserve biodiversity and heritage, promote sustainable development, and adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.

UNESCO and the island of Jeju is organizing a Training Course for Island and Coastal Area Biosphere Reserves Managers, which will take place on the island of Jeju, Republic of Korea, from 21 to 25 October 2013. The aim of this course is to deepen the understanding of biosphere reserve managers regarding the concept and vision of biosphere reserves, raise their awareness of the vulnerability of island and coastal biosphere reserves to climate change, and transfer technical knowledge.

The Trifinio-Fraternidad Biosphere Reserve: a regional model for a green economy

©UNESCO/Pilar Chiang Joo
Event "Trifinio-Fraternidad Biosphere Reserve, as a regional model for a green economy".

The Permanent Delegation of the Federal Republic of Germany in collaboration with the MAB Programme and with the contribution of the Permanent Delegations of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, jointly organized a conference on the Trifinio-Fraternidad Biosphere Reserve, as a regional model for a green economy, at UNESCO Headquarters on the 12 September 2013. This event informed the Permanent Delegations and Observers to UNESCO on the creation and success of the Transboundary Biosphere Reserve, on its management, natural resources, biodiversity and the important role played by local communities.

General Assembly of the African Network of Biosphere Reserves in Ghana

© Daniel S. Amlalo/ Environmental Protection Agency
Section of marshland with lagoon in background (Songor) Ghana

The Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme and the UNESCO Accra Office in collaboration with the Ghana National Commission for UNESCO are organizing the General Assembly 2013 and the Regional Meeting of the African Network of Biosphere Reserves (AfriMAB) in Accra, Ghana, from 24–27 September 2013.

AfriMAB is the Africa sub-Saharan network of Biosphere Reserves. As of June 2013, there are fifty-nine Biosphere reserves in Africa.

The official opening ceremony of the AfriMAB General Assembly took place on 24 September 2013 with key speakers including Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyeman, Minister for Education, and Hon. Dr. Paul Joe Oteng-Adjei, Minister for the Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI).

The theme of the meeting is ‘The Role of Ecosystems Services in Boosting Green Economies in Biosphere Reserve’. It will provide a platform for participants to exchange information on harnessing ecosystems services to develop green economies in biosphere reserves. Participants will also be able to undertake a regional stock-taking, help redefine the orientation of the network’s programme for the biennium, and share information and skills in biosphere reserve management through direct field visits.

Masters Course on Biosphere Reserves for Sustainable Landscape Development

© Bo Bergman
Nightfall at Lake Vänern - Lake Vänern Archipelago, Sweden

This course is comprised of two integrated modules that aim to make a profound difference in your capacity to work for sustainable development, with the landscape as your arena and the biosphere reserve concept as one of your tools. The course will give you a deep insight into the concepts of sustainability and biosphere reserves, and help you understand how to put theory into practice.

The course is a single-subject course at advanced level offered by the Department of Economy and Society, Human Geography Unit - School of Business Economics and Law, at the University of Gothenburg.

This Masters Course is offered to Biosphere Reserve Coordinators, Biosphere Reserve Management, and professionals that work with landscape-based management such as planners, consultants and conservationists.

The course comprises approximately six months of part-time study. It will include two separate weeks in the Lake Vänern Archipelago and Mount Kinnekulle Biosphere Rereserves (Mariestad, Sweden). In addition, the University of Gothenburg’s web-based learning platform (GUL) will be used for e-learning, interaction, presentations and feedback.

The deadline to submit the admission form is 31 October 2013 and the teaching language is English.

Biosphere Reserves as model regions for a Green Economy: information meeting on the Trifinio Fraternidad Biosphere Reserve

The idea to create a Biosphere Reserve between El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, in the area of Trifinio, first emerged in 1987, but it was in 1997 that the three parties recognized the region as an area of special interest that represented an indivisible ecological zone.

In 2011, during its 23th session, the International Coordination Council of the MAB Programme approved the establishment of the first tri-national biosphere reserve in Central America and commended the National Authorities for the work achieved so far. This biosphere reserve is considered a major contribution to the implementation of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.

The Permanent Delegations of Germany, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to UNESCO and the MAB Programme Secretariat are jointly organizing an information event on the Trifinio Fraternidad Biosphere Reserve at UNESCO Headquarters on 12 September 2013. This meeting will provide information on the initiative: ‘Biosphere Reserves as Model Regions for a Green Economy – The example of Trifinio - Fraternidad Biosphere Reserve in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala’, which is promoted by the German Authorities.

Last day to submit nominations for the UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize

© Kasztner András
Director-General, Irina Bokova awarded the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria with the Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation, 17 November 2011

The purpose of the UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environment Preservation is to afford recognition to outstanding contributions by individuals, groups of individuals, institutes or organizations in the management or preservation of the environment, consistent with the policies, aims and objectives of UNESCO, and in relation to the Organization’s programmes in this field, i.e. environmental and natural resources research, environmental education and training, creation of environmental awareness through the preparation of environmental information materials and activities aimed at establishing and managing protected areas such as biosphere reserves and natural World Heritage sites.

The Prize is awarded every two years. As of 2013, the financial Prize reward is USD 70,000, a donation graciously made by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said of Oman.

The deadline for submitting nominations for the 2013 Prize is 10 September 2013.

The Prize will be awarded for the 12th time at a ceremony that will take place during the World Science Forum in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), from 24 to 27 November 2013.

Mangroves and sustainable development: views from Latin America

© Ainhoa Mingolarra, UNESCO Quito
Panellists during the International Workshop on Mangroves and Sustainable Development

Organized by UNESCO-Quito, the Permanent Commission for the South Pacific (CPPS), Conservation International (CI), and the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia, the International Workshop on Mangroves and Sustainable Development, held in July in Santa Marta, Colombia, gathered forty-five participants from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Chile.

During the event, participants discussed environmental legislation and policies related to mangroves, as well as best practices and experiences of conservation and management of mangrove ecosystems. Topics included the sustainable use of resources; social, cultural and educational aspects; reforestation and ecological restoration; and research and monitoring.

UNESCO-Quito has established a formal cooperation agreement with the intergovernmental Permanent Commission for the South Pacific and the NGO Conservation International to jointly address the issue of the sustainable development of mangroves.

Kafa Biosphere Reserve: Saving the Last Wild Coffee Forests


Kafa Biosphere Reserve in Ethiopia is the birthplace of wild Arabic coffee and contains close to 5 000 wild varieties of the plant in this biodiversity hotspot.

Forty years ago, forest covered some 40 percent of the Ethiopian land surface. Today, less than 3 percent remains, most of which is located in the biosphere reserve and includes large areas of mountainous afromontane cloud forest. The forest ecosystem is highly important to the livelihoods of people in the area, providing wild coffee, valuable spices and honey from wild bees. It also contains some 25 million tonnes carbon in above ground biomass. Some 600 000 tons of carbon could be removed from the atmosphere annually through natural forest growth – if the forest remains intact. But it is endangered due to clear-cutting for smallholder agriculture and industrial coffee and tea plantations.

Promoting transboundary management of natural resources in Central Africa

© UNESCO/Mama Plea
Trinational workshop in Brazzaville, Congo.

Africa is endowed with biodiversity and natural resources; however, sustainable management remains a challenge. As a result of its colonial past, the political boundaries separating African countries do not follow natural and geological features. The same landscapes and similar ecosystems traverse frontiers and are inhabited by the same communities, if not the same ethnic groups.  

UNESCO plays an active role in supporting countries to manage their shared resources beyond these boundaries. In central Africa, the organization is undertaking a feasibility study for the establishment of a transboundary biosphere reserve between Cameroon, Congo and Gabon. This is in support of an intergovernmental cooperation agreement signed in 2005 by the three countries to create and sustainably manage a homogeneous and coherent space known as the Tri-nationale Dja-Odzala-Minkébé (TRIDOM). A tri-national workshop organized by UNESCO in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Environment of the Republic of the Congo was held in Brazzaville, Congo on 6 June 2013 to launch the consultation process with the participation of stakeholders from the three countries.

Summer course will analyse the reality and perspectives of La Rioja Biosphere Reserve in Spain

© Gurrea
Canyon of Leza River, La Rioja

The valleys of Leza, Jubera, Cidacos and Alhama in La Rioja (Spain)were declared biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2003. On the tenth anniversary of this declaration, the University of La Rioja Foundation is organizing a summer course from 25-27 June in Logroño, la Rioja, to promote social participation in the development of biosphere reserve management and to analyse its contribution to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

Participants will learn about new guidelines for the protection of biodiversity, new environmental assessment techniques or planning models, and will explore the organization of territorial management in biosphere reserves. The course will also examine issues such as local socio-economic development, the branding of products and services from the reserve, sustainable tourism initiatives and comparative experiences in light pollution prevention. The last topic is of particular importance as the biosphere reserve of La Rioja has been designated Spain’s first Starlight Tourism Destination, renowned for the clarity of its night sky.

Twelve new sites added to UNESCO’s World Biosphere Reserves Network

© UNESCO/Lee Kang
Gochang biosphere reserve, Republic of Korea

The International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), which met in Paris from 27 to 30 May, has added 12 sites to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The additions bring the total number of biosphere reserves to 621 in 117 countries.

Biosphere Reserves are sites chosen by the MAB Programme to experiment with different approaches to the management of terrestrial, marine and coastal resources as well as fresh water. They also serve as in situ laboratories for sustainable development.

The new biosphere reserves are: Alakol (Kazakhstan); Gochang (Republic of Korea); Great Nicobar (India); Macizo de Cajas (Ecuador); Marais Audomarois (France); Mariñas Coruñesas e Terras do Mandeo (Spain); Mont-Viso (France); Monteviso Area della Biosfera del Monviso (Italy); Real Sitio de San Ildefonso-El Espinar (Spain); Snake Island, Laotie Mountain, (China); Terres de l’Ebre, Catalonia (Spain) and Ziarat Juniper Forest (Pakistan).

Meeting of the International Coordinating Council of the MAB Programme to designate new biosphere reserves

© A. k. Makarigakis
Coffee ceremony: the roasting of coffee beans - Kafa biosphere reserve, Ethiopia

The 25th Session of the MAB International Co-ordinating Council (ICC) is taking place at UNESCO Headquarters from 27 to 30 May.

During the meeting the MAB-ICC will review progress and make important decisions concerning new sites to be included in UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

There are presently 610 reserves in 117 countries, including sites as varied as Tonle Sap Lake (Cambodia), the largest freshwater lake in Asia; the Mare aux Hippopotames (Hippopotamus Lake) in Burkina Faso; the Pantanal wetland region in Brazil and Fuerteventura Island in the Canaries Archipelago of Spain. During this year’s session, the Coordinating Council will consider new sites proposed by China, Ecuador, France, India, Italy, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Spain and Uruguay.

Declaration of the Eleventh East Atlantic Biosphere Reserves Meeting

© Biosphere Reserve of Principe

The Eleventh International Meeting of the East Atlantic Biosphere Reserve Network (REDBIOS) took place at the Biosphere Reserve of the Island of Príncipe, Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, from 3 to 9 May 2013.

The biosphere reserves of the REDBIOS Network agreed to reinforce their commitment to the development of the MAB programme by creating a collaborative platform that promotes and supports interaction both among the biosphere reserves, and between the reserves, the UNESCO MAB national committees, public and governmental entities, and other geographical and thematic networks within the MAB programme.

The REDBIOS Network established different priority work areas: natural resource management, education and knowledge, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, enhancement and integrated management of the landscape, and management of quality economic processes.These areas will be supported by biosphere reserve brands and certification systems, the promotion of responsible tourism, and the use of information and communication technologies as management tools.

Scholarship available for the Online MSc Sustainable Mountain Development

A scholarship towards the costs of participating in the part-time online MSc Sustainable Mountain Development offered by the University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland, is available for one student starting in September 2014. The course is an activity of the UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Mountain Development.
 
The scholarship will pay all fees for a student to complete the MSc. It is available to candidates who have been resident for at least three years in any European country (EU/EEA). The successful candidate will be responsible for paying all other costs (books, travel to induction and field course if attended, etc.). The scholarship has been made possible by the generosity of Lt. Col. John Moncrieff, a keen mountaineer who passed away recently.
 
The deadline for applications for the scholarship is 10 April 2014.  Short-listed applicants will be interviewed by phone in April/May 2014.
 

Just published: 2012-2013 map of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves

The new 2012-2013 map of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves shows the worldwide distribution of the 610 biosphere reserves located in 117 countries, including 12 transboundary/transcontinental sites. The map is available in English, French and Spanish, and also includes an overview of the objectives, tasks and structures of these areas.

The world map was prepared by the UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme with the generous support of the Spanish Government.

Caribbean countries committed to establish biosphere reserves

© Miguel Clüsener-Godt. From left to right: Hon. Ian Hayles (Member of Parliament of Jamaica), Hon. Nigel Carty of St. Kitts & Nevis, Hon. Kingston of Antigua & Barbuda, Hon. Silveria Jacobs, and Hon. Dr. Kenneth Darroux of the Commonwealth of Dominica.

Countries attending the Inter-Ministerial and Experts Conference on Biosphere Reserves in the Caribbean Sub-Region held in St. Kitts from 26 to 27 March 2013 have committed to establish a biosphere reserve in their respective countries.

During the conference, organized by the Government of St. Kitts & Nevis and the MAB Programme, an action plan for the next three years was established with the aim to create a network of biosphere reserves in the Caribbean Small Islands States and to promote biosphere reserves as tools for innovative projects bringing added value to the local socio-economical activities.

At a press conference after the meeting, the Ministers of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis and St. Maarten and government representatives of Curaçao, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines announced their commitment to work together in the establishment of biosphere reserves in their countries.



The Government of St. Kitts & Nevis and MAB organize an Inter-Ministerial and Experts Conference on Biosphere Reserves in the Caribbean Sub-Region

© Wikimedia Commons
St Mary's church, Cayon, St Kitts

Organized by the Government of St. Kitts & Nevis and the MAB Programme, the Inter-Ministerial and Experts Conference on Biosphere Reserves in the Caribbean Sub-Region: Tools for Sustainable Development and Growth will take place in St. Kitts & Nevis from 26 to 27 March 2013. The objective of this event is to facilitate discussions on the identification of appropriate locations for new biosphere reserves as well as their integration with the local/national sustainable development and adaptation to climate change plans. The Conference aims also to encourage participants in discuss the creation of an expert network for designations of new biosphere reserves in the English-speaking Caribbean and to identify specific initiatives, which can be developed in the already existing biosphere reserve leading to the development and promotion of new products, services and employment.

Aya Biosphere Reserve officially inaugurated in Japan

© Aya Biosphere Reserve
Horse racing park in springtime

On 22 February 2013, Aya Biosphere Reserve was officially inaugurated at a national symposium in Tokyo (Japan) on the theme of UNESCO’s MAB Programme and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. At this occasion, Mr Maeda, mayor of Aya Town, received the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve certificate from Mr T. Schaaf, Secretary of the MAB Programme.

Aya Biosphere Reserve (or 'eco-park', as it is called in Japan) was designated in July 2012 as the country’s fifth biosphere reserve. Located on the southern island of Kyushu, Aya is noted for pioneering a strict waste recycling policy which was subsequently also adopted in other communities of Japan. Over 60% of all farmers in Aya BR practise organic farming which are marketed successfully well beyond the borders of the community. Artistic handicraft products are produced based on local natural resources. The core area of the Aya Biosphere Reserve consists of a well preserved lucidophyllous forest with laurel and beech trees. An educational forest culture centre informs visitors on the forest ecosystem with its plant and animal species and traditional agricultural and forestry practises of the area.

La Selle officially declared Haiti’s first Biosphere Reserve

During a ceremony that took place in Port au Prince on 20 February 2013, and was honoured by the presence of the Minister of Environment, Mr. Jean Francois Thomas, and the Minister of Education, Mr. Vanneur Pierre, La Selle was officially declared Haiti’s first biosphere reserve.

The area includes a large number of different ecosystems and protected areas such as La Visite, one of the country's most important biodiversity sites; and the forest reserve Forêt-des-pins, Haiti’s biggest pine reserve, which is dominated by the endemic pine specie Pinus occidentalis.  Important cultural and architectural traditions are preserved in the historic city of Jacmel, which is partially included in the biosphere reserve.

Call for nominations for the ‘Elinor Ostrom Award for Collective Governance of the Commons’

© Ric Craddick, Indiana University

UNESCO/MAB, as an institutional partner of the award, is very pleased to announce the opening of the call for nomination of the Elinor Ostrom Award for Collective Governance of the Commons.

Created to honour and develop the legacy of Elinor Ostrom, the Award aims to acknowledge and promote the work of practitioners, young and senior scholars involved in the field of the commons. According with Elinor Ostrom’s large legacy the Award will go to academic and applied works on traditional, local, interlinked and global commons, knowledge, as well as cultural and virtual commons.

A new UNESCO Chair on 'Biosphere Reserves and urban environment' has been established at the Institute of Ecology in Xalapa, Mexico

The purpose of this new Chair is to contribute to the welfare of populations living in cities and in rural environments, providing them with appropriate surroundings, in recognition of the fact that collective effort in planning the use of natural and cultural capital is the best way to achieve sustainable development based on diversity.

The Chair proposed the Biosphere Reserve model as a tool to plan the physical and biological environment of the city and its environment with the participation of public citizens. This challenge is vital for Latin America, where much of the biological and cultural diversity is threatened by massive urban growth and unregulated use of the soil.

This Chair promotes development through the joint effort of the natural and social sciences to address one of the biggest challenges of our civilization - the integration of biodiversity into everyday life as a basis for fair and sustainable social, economic and environmental models of development.

Dr. Boshra Salem, president of the MAB International Coordinating Council, selected as a new member of the Women in Science Hall of Fame - 2013

© UNESCO/P. Chiang-Joo
Prof. Boshra B. Salem

The United States Department of State initiated a Women in Science Hall of Fame in 2010 to honour outstanding female scientists throughout the Middle East and North Africa. New hall of fame members are selected annually for their accomplishments, and with the hope to develop a strong network of professional women scientists across the region.  These role models also inspire girls to study science and pursue scientific careers.

Dr. Boshra Salem, president of the MAB International Coordinating Council and Chair of the Department of Environmental Sciences of the Alexandria University (Egypt), was selected as a member of the Women in Science Hall of Fame – 2013.

Flowers guide of the Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve, Lebanon

© Georges et Henriette Tohmé/ APJM

The Jabal Moussa biosphere reserve is located in the Keserwan-Jbeil area, 50 Km from Beirut, Lebanon. The biosphere reserve, which contains more than 720 plant species, is a true mosaic of ecological systems broadly representing the ‘evergreen sclerophyllous shrubland and forests’ biogeographic region within the Mediterranean biome.

The Flowers Guide of the Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve (Guide des belles fleurs de la réserve de biosphère de Jabal Moussa) written by Georges and Henriette Tohmé, is an excellent guide that will help visitors to identify all endemic plants of the reserve, as well as the more common and rare species, and those that are specific to the eastern Mediterranean region.

  • For more information, please contact the Association for the Protection of Jabal Moussa (APJM): info(at)jabalmoussa.org

The Teaching Resource Kit for Mountain Countries now available in Spanish

© UNESCO
Material educativo para los países situados en zonas montañosas

With a view to fostering better understanding of mountain ecosystems, the Teaching Resource Kit for Mountain Countries offers a creative approach to environmental education and is designed to arouse pupils' curiosity, to appeal to their artistic sensibilities, and to serve as a tool for more effective transmission of scientific information and environmental knowledge.

The publication was launched in English and French in 2011 thanks to the generous financial contribution of the Flemish Government of Belgium, and is now available in Spanish under the title ‘Material educativo para los países situados en zonas montañosas’.

Obituary: Pedro Araya, National Focal Point in Chile for the MAB Programme

© Miguel Clüsener-Godt

Mr Pedro Araya Rosas, who held the position of National Focal Point in Chile for the  Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme as Head of the Department of Zoning and Planning in the Management of Protected Areas Corporation (CONAF), passed away on Thursday, 15 November at 9.30 p.m. in Davila Clinic in Santiago, Chile.

Since his designation as focal point for the MAB Programme, Pedro Araya Rosas, inspired with motivation and dedication, promoted the work of CONAF and all stakeholders who actively participated in the MAB Programme at the national and international level. Mr Araya did not despair and continued with his duties despite the diagnosis of his disease that would eventually take his life. Since 2004, Pedro Araya Rosas continuously promoted the MAB Programme in his role as focal point. Among his achievements were the nominations of the Biosphere Reserves Cabo de Hornos,  Bosques Templados Australes and Bosques Corredor Biológico Nevados de Chillan-Laguna del Laja and improvements made to existing  biosphere reserves. He actively participated in regional cooperation programmes such as the ASPACO Project (Asian-Pacific Cooperation for the Sustainable Use of Renewable Natural Resources in Biosphere Reserves and Similar Managed Areas) and contributed to the editing of numerous UNESCO publications such as “Biosphere Reserve: a space for integration of conservation and development” ; “Biosphere Reserves: their contribution to providing ecosystem services” and “The Biosphere Reserve Model and Instruments for Its Sustainable Use: the Case of Chile”.

At the level of IberoMAB, Mr Araya’s work has been prominent since he organized the XI Meeting of IberoMAB in Chile and he produced the basic document for the medium term evaluation to create an Action Plan for IberoMAB 2010-2020. Lastly, Mr Araya was nominated President of the IberoMAB Network for the period 2011-2014. All these activities demonstrate his unending commitment and dedication. His passing away is a great loss for the MAB Programme and the IberoMAB Network.   

Call for candidate for the Michel Batisse Award for Biosphere Reserve Management

© Aya Biosphere Reserve
Learning about agriculture

Deadline for submission: 31 January 2013

The Michel Batisse Award for Biosphere Reserve Management is awarded every two years in memory of Dr Michel Batisse for excellence in the management of the biosphere reserves in line with the recommendations of the Seville Strategy.

Case studies must be submitted through, and have the endorsement of, the respective MAB National Committees, and/or the UNESCO National Commissions of the country concerned. Applications for the 2013 Awards should reach the MAB Secretariat in Paris no later than 31 January 2013.

The winner is awarded with a prize of US$ 6,000 plus international travel and allowances in Paris, France, to present the award winning case study to the MAB-ICC session.

Their Fate is Ours: Great Apes Survival Partnership Council to Meet to Save Species

© M. Graye, IGCP.
Mother and child Mountain Gorillas, Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) was established in 2002 to lift the threat of imminent extinction faced by gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans across their ranges in equatorial Africa and south-east Asia.

The GRASP Council—coordinated by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and UNESCO—will hold its second meeting at UNESCO Headquarters from 6 to 8 November to define a new strategy to protect these endangered primates, whose numbers have continued to decline.

20 new Biosphere Reserves added to UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme

© Tibor Mikuska
Mura-Drava-Danube Transboundary Biosphere Reserve

Paris, 11 July - The International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), meeting in Paris from 9 to 13 July, has added 20 new sites, including two transboundary, to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR). As recommended by the Bureau of the International Coordinating Council at its 24th session, the total number of sites participating in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) will now be recorded on the basis of the number of biosphere reserves in each country. This number will include sites that are part of transboundary biosphere reserves, which will also be listed separately. The network now includes 610 reserves in 117 countries, including 12 transboundary sites.

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New Chair for the MAB International Coordinating Council

© UNESCO/P. Chiang-Joo
Prof. Boshra B. Salem

Prof. Boshra B. Salem from Egypt was unanimously elected Chair of the International Coordinating Council (MAB-ICC) on 9 July 2012.

Prof. Salem, an expert on sustainable development in dryland ecosystems, is the first woman to hold this position.

The MAB-ICC is meeting in UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 9-13 July 2012.

Testing grounds for sustainable development: Kafa biosphere reserve

© NABU/S. Bender
Coffee collector - Kafa, Ethiopia

Kafa is the birthplace of wild Coffea Arabica, which first grew 1,000 years ago in the forest undergrowth. There are now close to 5,000 wild varieties of coffee in this biodiversity hotspot. A unique coffee culture is deeply engrained in the Ethiopian economy and history. This culture is a key element of the participatory forest management scheme created in the Kafa Biosphere Reserve to avoid deforestation and boost economic development.

Canary Islands’ Biosphere Reserves towards Rio+20

© Cipriano Marin
Wind Powered Desalination plant in Fuerteventura

Islands, and island biosphere reserves in particular, have traditionally been seen as privileged places where to test actual sustainable development models. Many projects and initiatives carried out in the Canary biosphere reserves during the last years answer some of the new challenges discussed at Rio+20. Each island offers a mosaic of innovative solutions with promising replication capacity.

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Biosphere Reserves in Spain

Managing Vietnam Biosphere Reserves: experimenting and learning from new approaches

Wet day in Vietnam

©istockphoto.com/R.Broek
Wet day in Vietnam

Biosphere reserves are like system models: their management are based on the principle “System thinking, Landscape planning, Inter-sector coordination and Quality economy” (SLIQ). A new approach being implemented in some biosphere reserves in Vietnam.

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Biosphere Reserves in Vietnam

International experts to review new submissions

© J.N. Poda
Fisher boats in Mare aux hippopotames Biosphere Reserve

International experts are meeting during the eighteenth meeting of the International Advisory Committee to review submissions for new biosphere reserves, and extensions to existing ones.

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World Network of Island and Coastal Area

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Meeting of the World Network of Island and Coastal Area Biosphere Reserves in Menorca (Spain)

Representatives from Island biosphere reserves met in February 2012 in Menorca (Spain) where was decided the creation of a newly World Network of Island Biosphere Reserves.

World Network of Island Biosphere Reserves

© UNESCO/Jessica Wakefield

Representatives from Island biosphere reserves to discuss and agree on the creation of a newly World Network of Island Biosphere Reserves.

International Day for Biosphere Reserves

© Cesar Laura
Nazarategui River – Puerto Bermúdez - Oxapampa-Ashaninka-Yanesha, Peru

On the occasion of its 40th birthday, the Man and Biosphere programme (MAB) and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves are happy to celebrate 3 November 2011 as the International Day for Biosphere Reserves!

Many events are planned all over the world, including an art exhibition, a film projection and a special session on “Messages for the sustainable futures” in UNESCO.

Biosphere reserves: sites for sustainable development in Action

The World Network of Biosphere Reserves is the largest network of protected areas in the world, with a surface area of over five million square kilometres, approximately the equivalent of half Europe.

A compendium of information sheets on the 563 biosphere reserves in 110 countries (up to 2010) has been published thanks to the Spanish "Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Medio Rural y Marino" contribution.

Link to the Publication (English / French / Spanish)

Biosphere Reserves

 

Biosphere reserve nominations and periodic reviews for 2012

© Sinar Mas Forestry/Indonesian MAB Committe
Giam Siak Kecil, Bukit Batu Biosphere Reserve (Indonesia)

The deadline for submission of new biosphere reserve nominations and periodic reviews is 30 September 2011. The MAB National Committees are invited to submit biosphere reserve nominations (and/or extensions to existing biosphere reserves) in hard copy with the original signatures of endorsement and original maps, and also in electronic form as well as periodic review reports. Countries wishing advice may contact the MAB Secretariat or the Field Offices.

- More information    
- UNESCO biosphere reserves and World Heritage sites: spot the difference 
- 18 new biosphere reserves in 2011  
- The Dresden Declaration, an outcome of the conference "For life, for the Future: biosphere reserves and climate change" (.pdf)

18 new Biosphere Reserves added to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves

© RSCN
Tourism, trails in Wadi Mujib, Jordan

The International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s MAB programme has added 18 new sites to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), during its meeting in Dresden, Germany, on the occasion of MAB's 40th anniversary. The Network now numbers 580 sites in 114 countries. Biosphere Reserves were inscribed in Lithuania, Maldives, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Togo for the first time this year. The Council also announced the laureates of the 2011 Young Scientists Awards and of the Michel Batisse Award.

- More information    
- 2011 Young Scientists Awards  
- UNESCO biosphere reserves and World Heritage sites: spot the difference  
- 23rd session of the International Coordinating Council (MAB-ICC)
- The Dresden Declaration, an outcome of the conference "For life, for the Future: biosphere reserves and climate change" (.pdf)

Celebrating 40 years of conservation, research and development

© Artfactory/DUK
Director-General Irina Bokova, participates in the 40th anniversary conference of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), held in Dresden, from 26 to 28 June.

High points of the year include the international conference “For life, for the future: biosphere reserves and climate change”, organized in Dresden in June 2011, where decision makers, managers, experts and other stakeholders will discuss the future of the MAB programme in times of climate change. Subsequent to the conference, the 23rd MAB International Coordinating Council (ICC) will convene in Dresden.

A formal event to mark the anniversary will take place during the 36th session of the UNESCO General Conference this November in Paris.


Celebrating 40 years of conservation, research and development

© Ric Craddick, Indiana University
Professor Ostrom

The MAB Programme is honored to welcome Professor Elinor Ostrom, the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics, for her analysis of economic governance and, in particular, common goods. Professor Ostrom will give a lecture at UNESCO Headquarters on Wednesday, 22 June on Sustainable Social-Ecological SystemsPhoto Gallery

Other high points of the year include the international conference “For life, for the future: biosphere reserves and climate change”, organized in Dresden in June 2011, where decision makers, managers, experts and other stakeholders will discuss the future of the MAB programme in times of climate change. Subsequent to the conference, the 23rd MAB International Coordinating Council (ICC) will convene in Dresden.

A formal event to mark the anniversary will take place during the 36th session of the UNESCO General Conference this November in Paris.

Celebrating 40 years of conservation, research and development

While Member States and key partners are planning local and national celebrations throughout the world, the MAB Secretariat launched a website dedicated to its 40th anniversary to present key milestones in the programme’s history, success stories, and current projects through a series of interviews and articles.

Other high points of the year include the international conference “For life, for the future: biosphere reserves and climate change”, organized in Dresden in June 2011, where decision makers, managers, experts and other stakeholders will discuss the future of the MAB programme in times of climate change. Subsequent to the conference, the 23rd MAB International Coordinating Council (ICC) will convene in Dresden.

A formal event to mark the anniversary will take place during the 36th session of the UNESCO General Conference this November in Paris.

UNESCO Biosphere Reserves as Learning Sites

© Aurélie Déjeant
Entlebuch Biosphere Reserve (Switzerland)

The role of biosphere reserves as experimental areas for testing investment approaches for food security to be discussed as from 24 March 2011.

40 already? Preparations for MAB's 40th anniversary

© UNESCO/ Malempré, Georges
Umayo lake (Peru)

Already 40 years of research, experience and practice! As MAB turns 40 this year, the Secretariat is inviting partners and Member states to participate in the celebration in the best possible way, by showcasing accomplishments, looking to the future and proposing new initiatives, and disseminating findings and best practices.

Outcomes of the first Ibero-American Biosphere Reserves Congress

Organized under the title “Biosphere Reserves: All Hands, All Voices”, this first congress produced a Déclaration that was delivered to the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP16) stressing the importance of Biosphere Reserves as laboratories for climate change monitoring and adaptation.

Shanghai Declaration on Urban Futures and Human and Ecosystem Wellbeing

© UNESCO/Z. Yi
Expo 2010 Shanghai, China

The International Symposium on Urban Futures and Human and Ecosystem Wellbeing was held in Shanghai (China) on 26-30 October 2010, which was an apt celebration of the Shanghai World Expo’s theme: “Better Cities, Better Life”. The symposium was jointly sponsored by the UNESCO-MAB Programme, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE).

Shanghai Declaration

Urban Systems

Integrated Urban Water Management

 

UNESCO and CBD embark upon a joint programme on the inter-linkages between biological and cultural diversity

© NABU/S. Bender, Traditional land use, Kafa Biosphere Reserve, Ethiopia

The 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 10) agreed on a number of measures that will ensure that the ecosystems of the planet will continue to sustain human well-being into the future.

Joint Programme UNESCO and SCBD

2010 Declaration

Nagoya Outcomes

COP 10 Decisions

IYB and UNESCO

Thirteen new sites join UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves

© Aurélie Déjeant
The Karst Biosphere Reserve (Slovenia)

The International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme has added 13 new sites and seven extensions in 15 different countries to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), which now has 564 sites in 109 countries.

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