World Network of Biosphere Reserves

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The UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves covers internationally designated protected areas, each known as biosphere reserves, that are meant to demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature (e.g. encourage sustainable development).[1]


To ensure environmental, economic and social (including cultural and spiritual) sustainability through:

  • the development and coordination of a worldwide network of places acting as demonstration areas and learning sites with the aim of maintaining and developing ecological and cultural diversity, and securing ecosystem services for human well-being;
  • the development and integration of knowledge, including science, to advance our understanding of interactions between people and the rest of nature;
  • building global capacity for the management of complex socio-ecological systems, particularly through encouraging greater dialogue at the science-policy interface; environmental education; and multi-media outreach to the wider community.

The network[edit]

Map showing the World Network of Biosphere Reserves as of 2009. Note: transboundary sites have been redistributed among the concerned countries for the locator map, hence, have been counted multiple times.

As of 2013 total membership has reached 621 biosphere reserves, including 12 transboundary sites, in 117 countries occurring in all regions of the world.[2] This already takes into account some biosphere reserves that have been withdrawn or revised through the years, as the program’s focus has shifted from simple protection of nature to areas displaying close interaction between man and environment.

UNESCO Region Number of
Biosphere Reserves
Number of
Africa 64 28
Arab States 271 11
Asia and the Pacific 124 23
Europe and North America 289 34
Latin America and the Caribbean 117 21

1 Includes the Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve of the Mediterranean, shared between Morocco and Spain
* Source - UNESCO, 2012[2]


  1. ^ "UNESCO Approves 13 New Biosphere Reserves for Enhanced Protection". 
  2. ^ a b "Directory of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR)". United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 

External links[edit]