India’s “unique” Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve is among 20 new sites added by the UN’s top cultural body UNESCO to its World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve (ABR) was established in 2001 and is spread across the two states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
- The International Co-ordinating Council added the new sites during a two-day meeting in Lima, capital of Peru.
- Biosphere reserves are places for learning about sustainable development aiming to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with the sustainable use of natural resources.
- New reserves are designated each year by the International Co-ordinating Council of the UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, which brings together elected representatives of 34 UNESCO Member States.
- There are 18 biosphere reserves in India out of which only nine, including the Nilgiris, Nanda Devi, Nokrek, Gulf of Mannar, Sundarban, and Great Nicobar, had been included in the network.
- Biosphere reserves in India protect larger areas of natural habitat and often include one or more National Parks and/or preserves, along with buffer zones that are open to some economic uses.
Protection is granted not only to the flora and fauna of the protected region, but also to the human communities who inhabit these regions, and their ways of life.