Twenty-four new sites join UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves

Paris, 25 July – Firstly, the International Co-ordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme has added 24 new sites to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. As well, this completed during its meeting in Palembang (Indonesia) from 23 to 28 July. Therefore, the MAB network now numbers 686 Biosphere Reserves. Furthermore, two existing biosphere reserves are now extended and had their names changes.

Most important, these sites are laboratories of harmonious interaction between people and nature.  More noteworthy is cause it allows for advances in the sciences and traditional knowledge. Thereby, they help the sharing of knowledge. Promoting the interaction between science and society. Helping to bring concrete improvements to the lives of local populations.
As well, Biosphere reserves are designated in Moldova and Mozambique for the first time this year.

The United States of America has been withdrawn from the World Network of Biosphere Reserves at the request of the US Government. The USA site that pulled out of the MAB Network is San Dimas Biosphere Reserve and Experimental Forest.

Biosphere reserves are sites destined to reconcile conserving biodiversity and human activity.  They do this through the sustainable use of natural resources. One of their aims is to give rise to innovative sustainable development practices.

Some of the new biosphere reserves listed.  They are in alphabetical order of countries.

First off we have Arly (Burkina Faso) which in the West African savannah.A biosphere which includes wetlands, gallery forests, dry clear forests, and tree and shrub savannahs. These are natural habitats for vulnerable and endangered species.  These species include the cheetah, elephant, lion, leopard and vulture. Agriculture is the main economic activity in Arly with cereal crops (millet and sorghum), peanuts and cotton, alongside livestock.

Mount Huangshan (China)
Mount Huangshan (China)

Mount Huangshan (China) – This biosphere reserves in the hilly region of Nanling Range.  That’s in south-east China. In addition, it has been a World Heritage site since 1990. And it harbours a forest ecosystem almost unchanged since the last glacial period. Therefore, Mount Huangshan has become a sanctuary for many ancient animal and plant species.  That’s since the Quaternary glacial period. The area serves as an important germplasm bank and a hotspot.  In addition, that’s for animal and plant biodiversity. Also and finally, this biosphere reserve is an important water source for the Xin’An, Qing Yi and Qiupu river systems.

Also, we have Berbak-Sembilang, Indonesia.  It’s Located on the south-east coast of Sumatra. Now this biosphere reserve includes Berbak and Sembilang national parks and two wildlife reserves. It has undisturbed swamp forest peat ecosystems and freshwater swamp forests.  Also, mangroves and lowland forests surrounding riverbanks.  These come with swamps that reach a depth of up to 10 metres. They also have Palm oil plantations (NOT TO ECO THERE!!! Also rubber, traditional agriculture (rice fields, dry fields etc) and timber are the main economic activities.

Valle Camonica - Alto Sebino Biosphere Reserves in Italy
Valle Camonica – Alto Sebino Biosphere Reserve – Italy

Val Camonica – Alto Sebino (Italy). The site is in the eastern part of Lombardy.  This area by typical alpine and pre-alpine valleys. Ranging from valley bottom landscapes to the highest peaks of Europe and the Adamello Glacier.  It also ends in the Iseo Lake, which is one of Italy’s largest basins. In addition, the landscape features rivers and lakes, woods and forests.  Let’s not forget glaciers, meadows and prairies. Finally, farming and animal husbandry in the region follows ancestral traditions.

Quirimbas (Mozambique) ­ in Cabo Delgado province.  It’s in the north of the country. The site consists of 11 islands.  They are combining marine parks and a freshwater system.  Also including the Montepuez river and Lake Bilibiza, a bird sanctuary. It seems that the islands support 3,000 floral species, of which 1,000 are endemic.  It also has rich fauna that includes 23 species of reptiles, 447 species of birds and 46 species of terrestrial mammals.  Also, Mammals including four of the “big five” (elephant, lion, buffalo and leopard).  Finally, eight species of marine mammals including whales and dolphins. The main economic activities are fishing, animal husbandry, tourism, arts and crafts and sea transport.

Then we have the Maasheggen (Netherlands).  Here we have an agricultural river landscape in the Meuse valley. Also, in the south-eastern part of the Netherlands. It’s shaped by continuous interaction between people and nature. The sites for hay meadows and include the oldest and largest network of natural hedges in the Netherlands. Therefore, the landscape comprises a mosaic of small agricultural fields. They enclosed by hedges, sand dunes, forests, lakes, wet meadows and reed beds. The plan is to use the biosphere reserve as a laboratory for sustainable development and tourism. OK BUT WHO OWNS IT?

Zhongar Biosphere Reserve (Republic of Kazakhstan). This biosphere reserve , located on the northern slope of the Zhetysu Alataun Ridge.  It incorporates the entire range of mountain ecosystems characteristic of Tien Shan mountains and Central Asia. The territory is of global importance. As the location of the wild apple gene bank. The main economic sectors are agriculture and the industrial production of sunflower oil, flour and mineral water. Lands are mainly used for grazing and hayfields.

Suncheon Biosphere Reserve (Republic of Korea) – Situated on the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula, the biosphere reserve includes the terrestrial ecosystems surrounding

Mountainous Urals (Russian Federation).  This is located in the Southern Urals.  A biosphere reserve covered with mixed coniferous and broad-leaved forests. As well as, mixed coniferous small-leaved forests and mountain taiga spruce-fir forests. Mountain ranges (with summits of 800 m to 1,178 m) and mountain valleys are interconnected by boulder streams. The western part of the reserve is low altitude. While the eastern part alternates between sloping mountain ridge elevations and depressions. Covered with lakes and deeply incised swampy valleys. About 12,000 people inhabit the site, whose main objective is to transition from extractive industries to a sustainable development model based on biological natural resource management, tourism and the rehabilitation of landscapes scarred by mining.

Also, the Mura River (Slovenia) is located in the eastern part of the country. This biosphere reserve includes the largest preserved complex of floodplains in Slovenia.  That’s where it seems that the interweaving of natural factors and human presence.  It seems to also have created an exceptional cultural riverine landscape. The main sources of income for residents are agriculture, industry, forestry and tourism.

Marico (South Africa) is located in the north of the country. This biosphere reserve comprises a unique freshwater ecosystem. One which includes the Molemane, Molopo and Marico river systems. The ecosystem is characterized by wetlands and a dolomitic system. Those which constitute a valuable part of South Africa’s natural heritage. The savannah and grassland areas support vulnerable plant species, such as Searsia maricoana. Endemic fauna include 73 species of mammal such as the African elephant, the black rhinoceros and the lion. The main economic activities are subsistence agriculture, livestock, game ranching and tourism.
Wadi Wurayah (United Arab Emirates) – Situated in the Emirate of Fujairah, the biosphere reserve consists of a water catchment area in an arid climate. This is part of the Haiar mountain range. The site hosts a rich fauna and flora endemic to the Arabian Peninsula. It is one of the last Emirati places where traditional farming practices are still maintained.

Finally, Gombe Masito Ugalla (United Republic of Tanzania) – The biosphere reserves here are a major site for Chimpanzee research.  This includes the Gombe National Park.  This national park includes forest land reserves and part of Lake Tanganyika. Faunal species present in the area include African elephants, ornate frogs and eight primate species. Its flora includes a species discovered in, and named after, Gombe (Pleiotaxis gombensis). Also, the biodiversity of Lake Tanganyika includes over 300 fish species.  That includes 250 bird species and reptiles. Such as the water cobra and the Tanganyika water snake.

In conclusion, the Thuringian Forest Biosphere Reserve ­is an extension and renaming.  It was formerly Vessertal-Thuringe Biosphere Reserve in Germany.  This was originally designated in 1979.  As well, this biosphere reserve was extended in 1986 and 1990. Including its new extension, the site now covers 34,000 hectares and should provide support for local communities.  Thereby, supporting and creating a model region for sustainable development.

UNESCO press release No. 2018-67

Photo gallery: https://en.unesco.org/mab2018

Videos of the new biosphere reserves: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/multimedia/news-videos/b-roll/mab-2018/

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