The International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), meeting this week in Paris, added 23 new sites to the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), a program of the United Nations.
Proposals for 28 new reserves and site extensions in 22 countries were considered (11 of those reserve extensions were approved and one reserve was renamed). Previously, the network consisted of 669 sites in 120 countries.
At the same time, the council approved requests by the U.S. and Bulgaria to remove some of those countries’ biosphere reserves from the official list. The U.S. withdrew 17 sites (out of the country’s previous total of 47 sites), and Bulgaria withdrew three. Prior to this year, a total of 18 sites had been removed from the program since 1997, by seven countries.
Biosphere reserves are areas comprising terrestrial, marine, and coastal ecosystems and are designated “learning places” for testing different sustainable approaches, UNESCO said in a news statement.
Each reserve also aims to reconcile biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources.
Launched in the early 1970s, the Man and the Biosphere Programme aims at improving people’s relationship with their environment, targeting the ecological, social, and economic dimensions of biodiversity loss and the reduction of this loss, UNESCO said.
Each year, new sites are designated by the MAB Council. Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments and remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they’re located.
Indawgyi Biosphere Reserve (Myanmar)—Indawgyi Lake is the largest body of freshwater in Myanmar. With a total surface area of 133,715 ha, the site consists of a large open lake with floating vegetation areas, a swamp forest and seasonally flooded grasslands. The hills surrounding the lake are covered by subtropical moist broadleaf forests that harbour a number of threatened forest birds and mammals, including primates. The local population derives most of its income from farmlands bordering the lake.