International Day for Biosphere Reserves Date in the current year: November 3, 2024

International Day for Biosphere Reserves The International Day for Biosphere Reserves is celebrated annually on November 3. It was created by UNESCO to highlight the role that the World Network of Biosphere Reserves plays in sustainable territorial development and boost conservation efforts.

Biosphere reserves are terrestrial, marine, and coastal ecosystems with animals and plants of unusual natural and scientific interest which are meant to demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) labels ecosystems as biosphere reserves to protect them and to promote management, education, and research in ecosystem conservation.

Biosphere reserves consist of three zones:

  • Core area, where no human activity is permitted. It is a strictly protected area dedicated to the conservation of species, genetic variation, ecosystems, and landscapes. The core area acts as a reference point to the natural state of the ecosystem that the biosphere reserve is meant to protect.
  • Buffer zone surrounding the core area, where limited activities are permitted. These activities are meant to help protect the core area. This zone may accommodate experimental research, education, training, tourism, and recreation facilities.
  • Transition area (area of cooperation), where people can live, work, and use natural resources in an ecologically and socio-culturally sustainable manner. For example, if trees or fish are taken for human use, this must be done in ways which cause minimum damage to the ecosystem.

Biosphere reserves are important for nature conservation, scientific research, sustainable development, and local communities. They help protect biodiversity and cultural diversity, serve as sites for studying interactions between ecological and social systems, contribute to finding local solutions to global challenges such as climate change, and help find ways to reconcile biodiversity conservation with the sustainable use of natural resources.

In 1971, UNESCO launched the Man and Biosphere Program (MAB) to coordinate the world’s biosphere reserves and help them exchange information, knowledge and experiences on biodiversity loss, climate change, and sustainable development. The MAB program manages the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, which, as of 2022, consisted of 738 biosphere reserves across 134 countries, including 22 transboundary sites. Altogether, they protect about 5% of the planet’s surface (comparable to the size of Australia) and are home to more than 275 million people.

The UNESCO General Conference established the International Day for Biosphere Reserves at the request of Spain and Uruguay at its 41st session in September 2021. This international day aims to raise awareness of the contribution of the MAB Program to the global biodiversity agenda, highlight the importance of coordinated conservation efforts on all levels (local, national, international and global), and promote a harmonious relationship between humanity and its natural environment.

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