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Biosphere Reserves of India

June 14, 2016

Biosphere Reserves in India

What is a Biosphere Reserve?

A Biosphere Reserve is a special ecosystem or a specialized environment with a flora and fauna that require protection and nurturing. These reserves are managed and studied for the conservation of various life forms found here. They are subjects of scientific and natural interest.

According to UNESCO, “Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems promoting solutions to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They are internationally recognized, nominated by national governments and remain under sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located”.

In 1971, UNESCO launched a global programme to formalize the scientific interaction between man and his natural environment. This programme is called the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB).  Some 120 countries have joined in by establishing 669 biosphere reserves, including 16 transboundary reserves connected by the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The MAB is a worthy initiative aimed at conserving the ecology and environment which is essential to the very survival of many rare and dying species of flora and fauna. India, with its rich treasure trove of biodiversity, is geographically ideal for establishing, cultivating and maintaining a variety of biosphere reserves.

Biosphere Reserves in India

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India defines Biosphere Reserves thus – “Biosphere Reserves (BRs) are representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes extending over large area of terrestrial or coastal/marine ecosystems or a combination thereof and representative examples of bio-geographic zones/province”. The Government of India has established about 18 different Biosphere Reserves in the country. Of these, 10 are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, set up under the auspices of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme. Not only are animals protected in the Biosphere Reserves of our country but the natural lifestyle of the indigenous people is also promoted. The communities in these regions are encouraged to retain their agrarian lifestyle and develop harmony with the plants and animals. The Biosphere Reserves of India correspond roughly to the IUCN Category V Protected Areas list and are often designed to include one or more national parks and national sanctuaries. The buffer zones of these Biosphere Reserves are open to economic activities as well.

Here’s a list of Biosphere Reserves in India:

Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (connected to MAB)

This is the first Biosphere Reserve established in the country.

Year of Establishment States Coverage Type Area (sq kilometres) Key Fauna
1-Aug-1986 Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala Parts of Wayanad, Nagarhole, Bandipur and Mudumalai, Nilambur, Silent Valley and Siruvani hills Western Ghats 5,520 Nilgiri Tahr, Lion-tailed macaque

 

Gulf of Mannar (connected to MAB)

Year of Establishment States Coverage Type Area (sq kilometres) Key Fauna
18-Feb-1989 Tamil Nadu Rameswaram in the north to Kanyakumari in the south Coastal 10,500 Dugong or Sea Cow

 

Sunderbans (connected to MAB)

Year of Establishment States Coverage Type Area (sq kilometres) Key Fauna
29-Mar-1989 West Bengal Parts of delta of Ganges & Brahamaputra river Gangetic Delta 9,630 Royal Bengal Tiger

 

Nanda Devi National Park & Biosphere Reserve (connected to MAB) 

Year of Establishment States Coverage Type Area (sq kilometres) Key Fauna
18-Jan-1988 Uttarakhand Parts of Chamoli, Pithoragarh and Almora districts in Uttarakhand Western Himalayas 5,860 Himalayan Snow Leopard

 

Nokrek (connected to MAB)

Year of Establishment States Coverage Type Area (sq kilometres) Key Fauna
1-Sep-1988 Meghalaya Parts of East, West and South Garo Hill districts Eastern Himalayas 820 Red Panda

 

Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve (connected to MAB)

Year of Establishment States Coverage Type Area (sq kilometres) Key Fauna
 03-Mar-1999 Madhya Pradesh Parts of Betul, Hoshangabad and Chhindwara Semi-Arid 4,981 Giant Squirrel, Flying Squirrel

 

Similipal (connected to MAB)

Year of Establishment States Coverage Type Area (sq kilometres) Key Fauna
21-Jun-1994 Odisha Parts of Mayurbhanj district Deccan Peninsula 4,374 Gaur, Royal Bengal Tiger, Wild Elephant

 

Achanakmar- Amarkantak (connected to MAB)

Year of Establishment States Coverage Type Area (sq kilometres) Key Fauna
30-Mar-2005 Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Parts of Anuppur and Dindori district and Bilaspur district Maikala Hills 3,835  Leopards, gaur, chital

 

Great Nicobar Island Biosphere Reserve (connected to MAB)

Year of Establishment States Coverage Type Area (sq kilometres) Key Fauna
 06-Jan-1989 Andaman and Nicobar Islands Southernmost islands of Andaman & Nicobar Island 885 Saltwater Crocodile

 

Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve (connected to MAB)

Year of Establishment States Coverage Type Area (sq kilometres) Key Fauna
12-Nov-2001 Tamil Nadu, Kerala Parts of Thirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts and Thiruvanthapuram, Kollam, and Pathanmthitta districts Western Ghats 3,500 Nilgiri Tahr, Elephants

 

Manas

Year of Establishment States Coverage Type Area (sq kilometres) Key Fauna
14-Mar-1989 Assam Parts of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Barpeta,Nalbari, Kamprup and Darang districts East Himalayas 2,837 Golden Langur, Red Panda

 

Dibru-Saikhowa

Year of Establishment States Coverage Type Area (sq kilometres) Key Fauna
28-Jul-1997 Assam  Parts of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts East Himalayas 765 Golden Langur

 

Dehang-Dibang

Year of Establishment States Coverage Type Area (sq kilometres) Key Fauna
 02-Sep-1998 Arunachal Pradesh Parts of Upper Siang, West Siang and Dibang Valleys East Himalayas 5,111  N/A

 

Khangchendzonga

Year of Establishment States Coverage Type Area (sq kilometres) Key Fauna
7-Feb-2000 Sikkim Parts of North and West Sikkim districts East Himalayas 2,931 Snow Leopard, Red Panda

 

Great Rann of Kutch

Year of Establishment States Coverage Type Area (sq kilometres) Key Fauna
29-Jan-2008 Gujarat Parts of Kutch, Rajkot, Surendranagar and Patan districts Desert 12,454 Indian Wild Ass

 

Cold Desert

Year of Establishment States Coverage Type Area (sq kilometres) Key Fauna
28-Aug-2009 Himachal Pradesh Pin Valley National Park and its surroundings; Chandratal & Sarchu and Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary Western Himalayas 7,770 Snow Leopard

 

Seshachalam Hills

Year of Establishment States Coverage Type Area (sq kilometres) Key Fauna
20-Sep-2010 Andhra Pradesh Seshachalam hill ranges in Eastern Ghats encompassing part of Chittoor and Kadapa districts Eastern Ghats 4,755  N/A

 

Panna

Year of Establishment States Coverage Type Area (sq kilometres) Key Fauna
25-Aug-2011  Madhya Pradesh Parts of Panna and Chhattarpur districts River Valley 2,998 Tiger, Chital, Chinkara, Sambhar and Sloth Bear

 

Read More:

Wildlife Sanctuaries in India

National Parks in India

Tiger Reserves in India

Bird Sanctuaries in India