Promoting Integrated Approaches to Land Resources Management through Biosphere Reserves

As part of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, the World Network of Biosphere Reserves comprises (in early 2007) 507 sites in 102 countries and territories, including Cuba, Dominica, Mauritius, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and US Virgin Islands. At best, biosphere reserves are sites of excellence to explore and demonstrate approaches to conservation and sustainable development on a regional scale, with associated research, monitoring, training and education and the involvement of local people as the driving force for conservation.
PACIFIC:

In June 2005, the first two biosphere reserves in Pacific island countries were approved by the MAB Bureau: Utwe (Federated States of Micronesia) and Ngaremeduu (Palau).

The two sites are ground-breaking not only in being the first of their kind in the sub-region, but in their being entirely locally conceived and driven. In both sites, the emphasis is on community-level approaches to conservation and sustainable development of coastal-marine ecosystems as well as land areas. Support to the development of both sites has been provided through the ASPACO initiative (Asia-Pacific Co-operation for the Sustainable Use of Renewable Natural Resources in Biosphere Reserves and Similar Managed Areas).

In December 2005, a representative of UNESCO-Apia visited the two sites to award local communities with the official UNESCO Biosphere Reserve certificate. A year later, from 12-14 December 2006, a workshop to develop the Pacific Island MAB Network was held in Pohnpei (Federated States of Micronesia). This workshop also served to launch an illustrated ‘discovery kit’ guide to the island biosphere reserves of the Pacific (comprising an atlas, activity booklet and poster). This interactive learning resource is intended for upper primary and lower secondary students in the Pacific and Pacific Rim countries, and details and explains the new and emerging biosphere reserves in the Pacific region.

For further information on existing and potential biosphere reserves in the Pacific region, contact Jan Steffen in the UNESCO-Apia office: j.steffen(at)unesco.org.

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