Khangchendzonga biosphere reserve Enters UNESCO list

Prelims level : Environment – Biosphere Reserves Mains level : Paper -III Conservation
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  • The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve of Sikkim, the highest biosphere reserve in the country has been included in the UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
  • Previously the core zone of Khangchendzonga National Park was designated a World Heritage Site in 2016 under the ‘mixed’ category.

Biosphere Reserve:

  • Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems promoting solutions to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.
  • They are internationally recognized, nominated by national governments and remain under sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located.

UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves:

  • The UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) covers internationally designated protected areas, each known as biosphere reserves, that are meant to demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature.

Criteria for World Network of Biosphere Reserves:

  • It should encompass a mosaic of ecological systems representative of major biogeographic regions, including a gradation of human interventions.
  • It should be of significance for biological diversity
  • It should provide an opportunity to explore and demonstrate approaches to sustainable developmenton a regional scale.
  • It should have an appropriate size to serve the three functions of biosphere reserves.
  • It should include these functions, through appropriate zonation, recognizing:
    1. A legally constituted core area or areas devoted to long-term protection, according to the conservation objectives of the biosphere reserve, and of sufficient size to meet these objectives.
    2. A buffer zone or zones clearly identified and surrounding or contiguous to the core area or areas, where only activities compatible with the conservation objectives can take place;
    3. An outer transition area where sustainable resource management practices are promoted and developed.
  • Organizational arrangements should be provided for the involvement and participation of a suitable range of inter alia public authorities, local communities and private interests in the design and carrying out the functions of a biosphere reserve.
  • In addition, provisions should be made for:
    1. Mechanisms to manage human use and activities in the buffer zone or zones.
    2. A management policy or plan for the area as a biosphere reserve.
    3. A designated authority or mechanism to implement this policy or plan.
    4. Programmes for research, monitoring, education and training.

Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve:

  • Located at the heart of the Himalayan range in northern Indian State of Sikkim.
  • It includes a range of ecolines , varying from sub-tropic to Arctic, as well as natural forests in different biomes, that support an immensely rich diversity of forest types and habitats.
  • The Khangchendzonga National Park includes a unique diversity of plains, valleys, lakes, glaciers and spectacular, snow-capped mountains covered with ancient forests, including the world’s third highest peak, Mount Khangchendzonga.
  • Forest types include Alpine meadow, Scarcely vegetated rocks, Alpine scrublands, Sub-alpine Rhododendron forest, Fir-Hemlock-Oak Forest, Oak forest, Moist Temperate forest, Broadleaved Evergreen forest and Temperate grassland.
  • The dominant flora includes Oak, Willow, Birch, Fir, Maple, Alpine grasses, Shrubs etc. Many species of medicinal plants and herbs are also found in the park.

List of UNESCO biosphere reserves:

Nilgiri Biosphere reserveTamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka
Gulf of Mannar Biosphere ReserveTamilnadu
Sundarban biosphere reserveWest bengal
Nanda devi biosphere reserveUttarkhand
Nokrek biosphere reserveMeghalaya
Pachmarhi biosphere reserveMadhyapradesh
Simlipal biosphere reserveOdisha
Great nicobar biosphere reserveGreat Nicobar
Achanakmar-amarkantak biosphere reserveChattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh
Agasthyamalai biosphere Kerala, Tamilnadu
Khangchendzonga Biosphere ReserveSikkim
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