• A ecosystem with plants and animals of unusual scientific and natural
  • A label given by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)(UNESCO)
  • Promote management, research and education in ecosystem conservation
  • Sustainable use of natural resources

    Biosphere Reserves in India
    Biosphere Reserves in India
  • Designation does not bring with it any new authorities over lands, water or resources.
  • Run by UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program.
  • The Man and Biosphere Reserve Program identify Biosphere Reserves to promote sustainable development. UNESCO launched this programme in 1971.

A biosphere reserve consists of three zones: Lithosphere, Hydrosphere and Atmosphere.

i) Core zone: No human activity is permitted in this zone-most protected area –contain endemic plants and animals-conserve the wild relatives of economic species and also represent important genetic reservoirs having exceptional scientific interest-protected region, like a National Park or Sanctuary/protected/regulated mostly under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

ii) Buffer zone: It surrounds the core area, where a limited access permits to local people for the gathering of resources-Research and educational activities

iii) Transition or Free zones: It is the outermost zone, which is open to human settlements and resource gathering-settlements, croplands, managed forests and areas for intensive recreation


  • A site must contain a protected and minimally disturbed core areaof value of nature conservation.
  • Core area must be a bio-geographical unitand should be large enough to sustain a viable population representing all trophic levels.
  • Theinvolvement of local communities and use of their knowledge in biodiversity preservation.
  • Areas potential for preservation of traditional tribal or rural modes of livingfor harmonious use of the environment.

Why Do We Need Biosphere Reserves?

  • To help conserve biological diversity
  • To maintain healthy ecosystems
  • To learn about natural systems and how they are changing
  • To learn about traditional forms of land-use
  • To share knowledge on how to manage natural resources in a sustainable way
  • To co-operate in solving natural resources problems

Fact Sheet

  • The World Network of Biosphere Reserves covers all major representative natural and semi-natural ecosystems
  • It spans over a surface of 6,812,000 km2 in 124 countries. It’s almost the size of Australia.
  • There are about 257 million people living in Biosphere Reserves worldwide
  • Today, 91 out of the 701 biosphere reserves that currently form the World Network of Biosphere Reserves include mangrove ecosystems.
  • Today, 126 out of the 686 biosphere reserves that currently form the World Network of Biosphere Reserves include rainforest ecosystems.

Biosphere reserves of India

  • Indian government has established 18 biosphere reserves
  • 12 of the 18 biosphere reserves are a part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, based on the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme list.
  • Panna Tiger Reserve of Madhya Pradesh is the latest included under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program.
  • Protect larger areas of natural habitat than a typical national parkor animal sanctuary,
  • Include one or more national parks or preserves, along with buffer zones that are open to some economic uses.
  • Protection is granted not only to the floraand fauna of the protected region, but also to the human communities who inhabit these regions, and their ways of life.

World Network of Biosphere Reserves in India based on the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme list:

List of Biosphere Reserves of India

  • India’s first BR-Lies in Western Ghats
  • World Heritage Site by UNESCO
  • Aralam, Mudumalai, Mukurthi, Nagarhole, Bandipur and Silent Valley national parks, as well as the Wayanad and Sathyamangalam wildlife sanctuaries
  • 1st to be included in UNESCO’s MAB Programme
  • Tribal groups– Badagas, Todas, Kotas, Irullas, Kurumbas, Paniyas, Adiyans, Edanadan Chettis, Allar, Malayan
  • States-Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala
  • Vegetation-Tropical evergreen forests, Montane sholas and grasslands, semi-evergreen forests, moist deciduous forests, dry deciduous forests and thorn forests
  • Forest Type-Moist evergreen, Semi evergreen, Thorn, Savannah woodland, and Sholas & grasslands
  • Rainfall-500mm to 7000mm per year
  • Two endangered species- lion-tailed macaqueand nilgiri tahr
  • 80% of flowering plants reported from Western Ghats
  • Genus Baeolepis is exclusively endemic
  • Major tributaries of the river Cauvery like the Bhavani, Moyar, Kabini and other rivers like Chaliyar, Punampuzha
  • hydroelectric power projects are present in the Kundah, Bhavani and Moyar basins
  • threatened by monoculture
  • State of Uttarakhand, West Himalaya
  • World Heritage Siteby UNESCO
  • Renamed as Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks
  • Drained by the Rishi Ganga through the Rishi Ganga Gorge
  • Meadows of endemic alpine flowers, glaciers, moraines, and alpine meadows.
  • Animals-Asiatic black bear, snow leopard, brown bear and blue sheep, Himalayan musk deer
  • transition zone between the mountain ranges of the Zanskar and Great Himalaya
  • located within the Western Himalayas Endemic Bird Area (EBA)
  • Seven restricted-range bird species are endemic
  • large shallow bay forming part of the Laccadive Sea in the Indian Ocean
  • west coast of Sri Lanka and the southeastern tip of India, in the Coromandel Coast
  • chain of low islands and reefs known as Ramsethu, also called Adam’s Bridge, which includes Mannar Island, separates the Gulf of Mannar from Palk Bay
  • lies to the north between Sri Lanka and India
  • Malvathu Oya (Malvathu River) of Sri Lanka and the estuaries of Thamirabarani Riverand Vaipar River of South India drain into the Gulf
  • dolphins, dugongs(sea-cow), whales and sea cucumbers
  • crustaceans, molluscs, echinoderms
  • known for its pearl banks of Pinctada radiata and Pinctada fucata for at least two thousand years
  • Marine environments – seaweed , sea grass , coral reefs, salt marshes and mangrove forests
  • last refuge of an invertebrate, the unique ‘living fossil’ Balanoglossus that links vertebrates and invertebrates
  • Northeast of India on the Tura Range
  • Forms part of the Meghalaya Plateau
  • Nokrek is the highest peak of the Garo hills
  • Location-East Garo Hills district of the state of Meghalaya
  • Rivers-Ganol, Dareng and Simsang rivers
  • Simsang originates in the north of the Biosphere Reserve, the Dareng from the southern peaks, and the Ganol flows westward into the Brahamputra River
  • High humidity, monsoon rains and high temperatures and growth of rich vegetation
  • Evergreen (90%) and semi-evergreen deciduous forests
  • Bamboo forest, endemic Citrus especially Citrus indica (Indian wild orange).
  • Along with Balpakram national park, Nokrek is a hotspot of biodiversity in Meghalaya
  • Important Species- Red panda
  • Tribes-Garo (Mostly), Banias or Hajjons
  • Representative species of the reserve include Bombax ceiba(Cotton tree), Sterculia villosa (Hairy Sterculia) and Cassia fistula (Golden shower tree). Highly vulnerable and threatened fauna species in Nokrek include the Slow Loris, Petaurista philippensis (Giant flying squirrel) and Macaca leonina (Pig-tailed macaque).
  • An Important Bird Area
  • important habitat of the Asian elephant
  • rock is mainly gneisses, granulites, migmatites, amphibolites and banded iron formation
  • Entire Hilly-soil is red loam, varies from clayey to sandy loam, rich in organic matter and nitrogen but deficient in phosphate and potash,
  • patchy sedimentary rock composed of pebble bed, sandstone, and carbonaceous shales
  • Notable sites-Nokrek Peak and Rongbang Dare Water Fall. Balpakram National Park and Siju Cave
  • mangrove area in the delta formed by the confluence of the GangesBrahmaputra  and Meghna Rivers in the Bay of Bengal.
  • spans from the Hooghly River in India‘s state of West Bengal to the Baleswar River in Bangladesh
  • closed and open mangrove forests, agriculturally used land, mudflats and barren land, and is intersected by multiple tidal streams and channels
  • Four protected areas in the Sundarbans are enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, viz. Sundarbans National ParkSundarbans WestSundarbans South and Sundarbans East Wildlife Sanctuaries
  • Indian Sunderban is bound on the west by river Muriganga and on the east by rivers Harinbhahga and Raimangal. Other major rivers flowing through this eco-system are Saptamukhi, Thakuran, Matla and Goasaba.
  • situated south of the Tropic of Cancer
  • Important Species-Royal Bengal Tiger
  • Sundari or Sundri, the local name of the mangrove species Heritiera fomes
  • Bengali folk epic Manasamangal mentions Netidhopani
  • national parkUNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a Project Tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve
  • Himalayan foothills, contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan
  • Important Species-wild water buffalo
  • Other Imp Species- Assam roofed turtlehispid haregolden langurand pygmy hog
  • largest population of the endangered Bengal florican to be found anywhere
  • Manas River-major tributary of Brahmaputra River splits into two separate rivers, the Bwrsi and Bholkaduba
  • Two Major Biomes-grassland & forest
  • limestone and sandstone, deep deposits of fine alluvium
  • combination of Sub-Himalayan Bhabar Terai formation along with the riverine succession
  • Vegetation types-Sub-Himalayan Light Alluvial Semi-Evergreen forests in the northern parts., East Himalayan mixed Moist and Dry Deciduous forests (the most common type), Low Alluvial Savanna Woodland, and Assam Valley Semi-Evergreen Alluvial Grasslands which cover almost 50% of the park.
  • highest legal protection and strong legislative framework under the provisions of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and Indian Forest Act, 1927/Assam Forest Regulation 1891
  • covered by Grasslands of Terai and Bhabar type, the riparian areas have colonizing grasslands and woodlands of several species
  • Twenty-one animal species listed in Schedule 1 of India’s national Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972
  • declared as Chirang – Ripu Elephant Reserve under Project Elephant
  • national park and a tiger reserve
  • three protected areas — Similipal Tiger Reserve, Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary and Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary
  • derives its name from the abundance of red silk cotton trees
  • part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves
  • Imp Species-Bengal tigerAsian elephantgaur, and chausingha
  • Waterfalls-Jorandaand Barehipani Falls.
  • lies within two biogeographical regions: the Mahanadian east coastal region of the Oriental realm and the Chhotanagpur biotic province of the Deccan peninsular zone
  • Volcanic sedimentary rocks are aligned in three concentric rings and accentuate the area’s geologic formations
  • highest peak in the Similipal hill range is Khairiburu
  • Major River-Budhabalang, Baitarani and Subarnarekha
  • largest zone of Sal in all of India.
  • Ecological-tropical monsoon climate
  • 73% of all inhabitants are Aboriginals. Two tribes, the Erenga Kharias and the Mankirdias
  • dominant tribes include the Ho, Gonda and Munda
  • cultural significance-Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas-a sacred grove called Shami Vrikhya
  • lies in the Eastern Highlands moist deciduous forests ecoregion, with tropical moist broadleaf forest and tropical moist deciduous forests with dry deciduous hill forest and high level Sal forests, The grasslands and the savannas
  • Mouling National Park and the Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Eastern Himalaya and Mishmi Hills
  • natural vegetation stretching in an unbroken sequence from the tropics to mountain tundra
  • Vegetation Type- Sub-tropical broad-leafed forests, 2. Sub-tropical pine forest, 3. Temperate broad leafed forests, 4. Temperate conifer, 5. Sub-alpine woody shrub, 6. Alpine meadow (mountain Tundra), 7. Bamboo brakes, 8. Grassland
  • ranges from tropical wet evergreen in the river gorges to subtropical, temperate, alpine and permanent snow
  • Rare mammals such as Mishmi takinred goralmusk deer
  • Two flying squirrels– Mechuka giant flying squirrel and Mishmi Hills giant flying squirrel
  • non-use conservation area and biosphere reserve in the Satpura Range
  • biogeographical region of the Deccan Peninsula and the Biotic Province of Central India
  • highest peak is the Dhoopgarh
  • part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves
  • three protection sites: the Bori Sanctuary, Satpura National Park and Pachmarhi Sanctuary – otherwise known as the Satpura Tiger Reserve
  • forests are dominated by Tectona grandis (Teak) and Shorea robusta (Sal)
  • Semi-Arid
  • Imp Species-Giant squirrelflying squirrel
  • Tropical moist deciduous forests, tropical dry deciduous and central Indian sub-tropical hill forests
  • Tribes- Gond (50-90%), Korkus
  • Northern part of Bio-Geographic zone 6 and Bio-Geographic province 6 A (Deccan peninsula and Central highlands)
  • lowland rice fields in Bilaspur and Anuppur and the wheat fields in Dindori to the hills of the Maikal range of Satpuras.
  • The topography of the soil in the Amarkantak plateau is bauxite
  • major watersheds of peninsular India
  • separates the rivers that drain into the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.
  • three major river systems: the Narmada, the Johilla and the Son River.
  • Maikal hill ranges together with Vindhyaand Satpura lies within
  • tropical deciduous vegetation and it can be classified into Northern Tropical Moist Deciduous and Southern Dry Mixed Deciduous forests
  • Shelter to various thallophyte , bryophyte , pteridophyte , gymnosperm, and angio sperm species
  • Imp Species- Four-horned antelopeIndian wild dogsarus cranewhite-rumped vulturesacred grove bush frog
  • salt marsh in the Thar Desert
  • largest salt deserts in the world
  • Kutchi people
  • Banni grasslands on its southern edge
  • vast shallow of the Arabian Sea until continuing geological uplift closed off the connection with the sea
  • creating a vast lake that was still navigable during the time of Alexander the Great.
  • River-Luni, Rupen from the east and the West Banas River
  • Nara Canalor Puran river which is a delta channel of Indus River empties during floods into Kori Creek located in the Great Rann of Kutch.
  • Imp Species- Indian wild ass, largest flocks of greater and lesser flamingos
  • Famous Places-Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, Narayan Sarovar SanctuaryKutch Bustard Sanctuary, Banni Grasslands Reserve and Chari-Dhand Wetland Conservation Reserve.
  • an unexplained strange dancing light phenomenon known locally as Chir Batti (ghost lights) occurs
  • western Himalayas region
  • areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems
  • not affected by the Indian monsoons because they lie in the rain shadow of the Himalayas
  • state of Sikkim, bordering Nepal to the west and Tibet (China) to the north-west
  • one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots
  • Himalayan trans-axial belt which constituents are valleys with numerous ravines, deep gorges and gullies, saddles, crests, knolls and river-terraces
  • high reaches, the hill slopes are moulded into gentler alpine meadows
  • epiphytes and lianas are abundant
  • Species-Snow leopardred panda
  • delimited in the west by the Tamur River, in the north by the Lhonak Chuand Jongsang La, and in the east by the Teesta River
  • Located in the Western Ghats
  • wildlife sanctuaries, Shendurney, Peppara and Neyyar, are located in the site, as well as the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger reserve
  • a unique genetic reservoir of cultivated plants, in particular cardamom, jamune, nutmeg, pepper and plantain
  • tropical forest ecosystems 
  • biogeographical ‘hot spot’ within the Western Ghats.
  • Species- Nilgiri tahrAsian elephant
  • home to Kani tribes from both Tamil Nadu and Kerala (Kanikkarans are the Original tribal Settlers)
  • Vegetaion– Indian Ecoregionsof tropical wet evergreen forests, South Western Ghats moist deciduous forestsSouth Western Ghats montane rain forests and Shola.
  • Southernmost island of the Nicobar
  • Threatened tropical evergreen forest ecosystems/Wet evergreen
  • Species of angiosperms, ferns, gymnosperms, bryophytes and lichens
  • Species- Saltwater crocodile
  • Mongoloid Shompen Tribe
  • Other facts- Indira Pointis the name of the southernmost point of Republic of India. It is situated on Great Nicobar Island in the Nicobar Islands
  • bounded by the Brahmaputraand Lohit Rivers in the north and Dibru river in the south
  • consists of moist mixed semi-evergreen forests, moist mixed deciduous forests, canebrakes and grasslands
  • largest salix swamp forest in north-eastern India, with a tropical monsoon climate
  • Species- white-winged wood duck
  • Rare creatures –water buffaloblack-breasted parrotbilltiger and capped langur.
  • Part of the Eastern Ghats
  • Formed during the Precambrianera
  • Minerals contained in these hills include sandstone and shale interbedded with limestone
  • Bounded by the Rayalaseemauplands to the west and northwest, and the Nandyal Valley to the north.
  • Tirupati, a major Hindupilgrimage town is located
  • Srivenkateshwara National Park
  • Large reserves of red sandalwood
  • Twenty second Tiger reserve of India (5th in MP)
  • Surrounding territorial forest and deciduous fragmented forest landscape
  • Continuity of the Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests belt, which starts from Cape Comorin in South India, is broken and beyond this the Upper Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests of the great Indo-Gangetic Plain begins.
  • Ken Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Catchment area of Ken River
  • UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves (Latest 12th UNESCO BR in India)
  • Species: Tiger, chital, chinkara , sambhar and sloth bear
  • A critical tiger habitat area and hosts the Panna Tiger Reserve, as well as the World Heritage site of the Khajuraho Group of Monuments.
  • Important Species-Tiger, Leopard, Chital, Nilgai, Slothbear, Sambhar.

Prelims inFocus


  • The Odisha government has proposed a second biosphere reserve in the southern part of the state at Mahendragiri, a hill ecosystem.
  • Similipal Biosphere Reserve is Odisha’s first such reserve.
  • MBR is spread over Gajapati and Ganjam districts in the Eastern Ghats.
  • This is the second highest mountain peak of Odisha after Deomali in Koraput district.
  • Acts as a transitional zone between the flora and fauna of southern India and the Himalayas, making the region an ecological estuary of genetic diversities.
  • Inhabited by the Soura people, a particularly vulnerable tribal group as well as the Kandha tribe. 
  • Twenty-nine of the 41 species of threatened medicinal plants found in the biosphere reserve area according to IUCN.


  • The exercise to create a much-awaited biosphere reserve in western Rajasthan’s Thar desert has been stepped up with the support of UNESCO, which has assured to provide funds and technical help for protecting the rare fauna in the region.
  • The project may be included shortly in UNESCO’s flagship Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme.
  • The climate variability in Thar desert is based on the stretches of sand, which are interspersed with hillocks and sandy and gravel plains.
  • Efforts were being made to protect the endangered species of great Indian bustards, desert cats, chinkaras, vultures and other birds.


  • Recently, UNESCO designated Mura-Drava-Danube (MDD) as the world’s first ‘five-country biosphere reserve’.
  • The biosphere reserve covers 700 kilometres of the Mura, Drava and Danube rivers and stretches across Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia.
  • The total area of the reserve — a million hectares — in the so-called ‘Amazon of Europe’, makes it the largest riverine protected area on the continent.
  • Represented an important contribution to the European Green Deal and contributes to the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy in the Mura-Drava-Danube region.
  • It is home to continental Europe’s highest density of breeding white-tailed eagle (more than 150 pairs), as well as endangered species such as the little tern, black stork, otters, beavers and sturgeons.


  • These additions were decided by the 34th session of the International Co-ordinating Council, the governing body of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme, which is composed of 34 representatives of UNESCO Member States.
  • The Council was meeting from June 2022 at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris.
  • The newly designated biosphere reserves are:
    • Sunshine Coast Biosphere Reserve (Australia)
    • Doumba-Rey Biosphere Reserve (Cameroon)
    • Sena Oura Biosphere Reserve (Chad)
    • Dedoplistskaro Biosphere Reserve (Georgia)
    • Three Alazani Rivers Biosphere Reserve (Georgia)
    • Burabay Biosphere Reserve (Kazakhstan)
    • Markakol Biosphere Reserve (Kazakhstan)
    • Khuvsgul Lake Biosphere Reserve (Mongolia)
    • Harrat Uwayrid Biosphere Reserve (Saudi Arabia)
    • Kafue Flats Biosphere Reserve (Zambia)
    • Chimanimani Biosphere reserve (Zimbabwe)

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