Biosphere Reserve is an international designation given by UNESCO for representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes extending over large area of terrestrial or coastal marine ecosystems or combination thereof. BRs are designated to deal with one of the most important questions of reconciling the conservation of biodiversity, the quest for economic and social development and maintenance of associated cultural values. BRs are thus special environments for both people and the nature and are living examples of how human beings and nature can co – exist while respecting each other’s need.
The MAB, launched in 1970 by UNESCO, is a broad based ecological programme aimed to develop within the natural and social sciences a basis for the rational use and conservation of the resources of the biosphere and for the improvement of the relationship between man and the environment; to predict the consequences of today's actions on tomorrows world and thereby to increase man's ability to manage efficiently the natural resources of the biosphere reserve. The approach emphasizes the importance of the structure and functioning of ecological systems and their mode of reaction when exposed to human intervention including impact of man on the environment and vice-versa. MAB is primarily a programme of research and training and seeks scientific information to find solution of concrete practical problems of management and conservation. MAB's field projects and Biosphere Reserves constitute the main goal of the whole programme.
The International Coordination Council (ICC) of the MAB programme introduced the designation ‘Biosphere Reserve’ for natural areas in its first meeting held in Paris during November, 1971. Future functions of BRs were given concrete shape in MAB Project area of “Conservation of natural areas and of the genetic material they contain” (UNESCO, 1972). The concept of Biosphere Reserves was refined by a Task Force of UNESCO’s MAB programme in 1974, and BR network was formally launched in 1976. At the 12th session of ICC held in Paris from 25 to 29 January 1993, following five priority areas were identified to enable BRs to implement results of United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held at Rio de Janerio in June 1992:
Conservation of biological diversity and ecological processes
Development of sustainable use strategies
Promotion of information dissemination and environmental education
Establishment of a training structure
Contribution to the establishment and implementation of Global environmental monitoring system
MAB is primarily a programme of research and training and seeks scientific information to find solution of concrete practical problems of management and conservation. MAB's field projects and Biosphere Reserves constitute the main goal of the whole programme.
The Indian National Man and Biosphere (MAB) Committee identifies and recommends potential sites for designation as Biosphere Reserves, following the UNESCO’s guidelines and criteria. A total of 631 BRs in 119 countries have been designated in the UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR). In India, 18 Biosphere Reserves have been established and 9 BRs are included in the WNBR. In Madhya Pradesh there are 3 BRs viz., Pachmarhi (1999), Achanakmar-Amarkantak (2005) and Panna (2011) BRs have been notified by MoEF, GoI. Achanakmar-Amarkantak BR is an example interstate BR. Its 68.10% area falls in Chhattisgarh and remaining 31.90% area falls in Madhya Pradesh. Out of the 3 BRs Pachmarhi and Achanakmar-Amarkantak BRs have been included in the UNECO’s WNBR.