11.07.2012 - Natural Sciences Sector

2 new SIDS sites added to the global network of biosphere reserves

© UNESCO/M. Clüsener-GodtThe Island of Príncipe is the oldest of three oceanic volcanic islands in the Gulf of Guinea

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, two of which from SIDS, to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR). The network now includes 598 reserves in 117 countries.

The new Biosphere Reserves include, among others, sites in Haiti and Sao Tome & Principe, inscribed for the first time this year.

Biosphere Reserves are areas designated under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme to serve as places to test different approaches to integrated management of terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine resources and biodiversity. Biosphere Reserves are thus sites for experimenting with and learning about sustainable development.

Brief descriptions of two of the new sites:

La Selle, Haiti, is the country’s first biosphere reserve. The area includes a large number of different ecosystems (mountain, plain, tropical dry forest and coastal ecosystems) and protected areas like La Visite or Forêt-des-pins (with the endemic species, Pinus occidentalis). It is located in the ecological continuum of the Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve of the Dominican Republic and contributes to the Caribbean Biological Corridor as an example of collaboration among countries. Four percent of the Haitian population lives in the biosphere reserve and the main economic activities are agroforestry, fishery, tourism, and handicraft industry.

The Island of Príncipe, Sao Tome and Principe, is the country’s first Biosphere Reserve. It is the oldest of three oceanic volcanic islands in the Gulf of Guinea. The area includes the entire emerged area of the island of Príncipe, its islets and Tinhosas islands. It is home to great biodiversity in terrestrial as well as in marine ecosystems, and is an important place for the reproduction of sea turtles, seabirds and cetaceans. The main economic activities are agriculture, fishing and tourism. It can be considered as a model for promoting integrated eco-tourism development in similar islands and may serve as the basis for a larger marine and terrestrial buffer zone.

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