IN FOCUS 2014

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’.

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.

‘No plastic. A small gesture in our hands’ campaign: 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.

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!

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