(Last Updated on : 16/01/2015)
Indian biosphere reserves are established for the protection of bigger areas of natural habitats like sanctuaries and national parks. Around 15 biosphere reserves have been founded by the Government of India. Moreover, in today's world, where global warming is becoming a huge threat to the entire human civilisation day by day, the biosphere reserves are providing a scope to study biosphere. Biosphere integrates all living beings and their relationships in the world and it mainly studies about their interaction with the elements of the lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. The biosphere reserve is actually an international conservation designation given by the UNESCO under its Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB), in 1971. The total number of Indian biosphere reserves is roughly 16 and they are counted among the most notable ones in the world.
For an exact definition of biosphere reserve, 'The Statutory Framework of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves' can be referred. According to it, the biosphere reserves are created with an intention 'to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship between humans and the biosphere'. Another objective of the biosphere reserves is to conserve in place all forms of life, along with its support system, in its totality, so that it could serve as a referral system for monitoring and evaluating changes in natural ecosystems. The article 4 of the Statutory Framework states that the biosphere reserves must 'encompass a mosaic of ecological systems', and thus should consist of combinations of terrestrial, coastal, or marine ecosystems. The conservation of these ecosystems and their biodiversity is sought to be maintained, through appropriate zoning and management.
India is one of the biggest contributors of the programme of biosphere reserve and the Indian biosphere reserves have been established by fulfilling all the required criterions. Being the protected areas of representative terrestrial, coastal and marine environments, these reserves are working for conserving the diversity of plant and animal species along with the habitat in which they live. Four of the Indian biosphere reserves like the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve
, the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, the Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve and the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve are included in the international network. The reserves are covering 10 out of the 12 major bio-geographic realms, at present.
Several biosphere reserves have been formed by the Indian government in different parts of the country. More than one national park or preserves as well as some buffer regions are sometimes incorporated in the biosphere reserves. In these reserves, protection is granted not only to the flora and fauna of the protected region, but also to the inhabitant human communities of these regions, and their ways of life. The Indian biosphere reserves can be divided in many ways according to their types. Some of the most common types of Indian biosphere reserves include the coasts, Ganges Delta
, East Himalayas, West Himalayas, Western Ghats, Semi-Arid, Deccan Peninsula, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, etc.
The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve located in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka
, is the first ever biosphere reserve in India and it was established in the year 1986. The other Indian biosphere reserves include the Gulf of Mannar
in Tamil Nadu
; the Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve in West Bengal
; the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve in Uttaranchal, the Dihang-Dibang Biosphere Reserve
in Arunachal Pradesh
; the Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve
in Madhya Pradesh
; the Simlipal Biosphere Reserve in Orissa
; the Achanakmar Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve
in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh
; the Manas Biosphere Reserve in Assam, the Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve
, the Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve
, the Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve
in Andaman & Nicobar Islands
; the Nokrek Biosphere Reserve
; and the Dibru-Saikhowa Biosphere Reserve in Assam