UNESCO Biospheres

Certificate-UNESCO-MAB-for-BLD-Biosphere-2014What is a UNESCO Biosphere site?

  • The biosphere is the world in which we live and share with other living things – the zone of life on earth – the soil we grow things in, the air we breathe and the sea where we swim and fish.
  • UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) is developing a global network of ‘Biosphere Reserves‘  which promote a balanced relationship between people and nature.
  • These are real world-class environments – not artificial domes as at the Eden Project in Cornwall or as depicted in The Simpsons movie!
  • There are now 631 Biosphere Reserves spanning 119 countries including areas as diverse as the Amazon rain forest, Canary islands, and city surrounds of Paris, Cape Town and Sao Paolo. In the UK there are now four modern Biosphere Reserves, including our site of the Brighton & Lewes Downs.
UNESCO Biosphere Reserves / UNESCO UKMab

UNESCO Biosphere Reserves / UNESCO UKMab








UNESCO Biosphere sites have three functions:

  • Conservation – looking after nature and managing a high quality environment that provides for our own needs – our food, water, health and well-being
  • Development – improving our lives and economy in ways that minimise our impacts on the world around us
  • Knowledge – using environmental education, research and public engagement to increase understanding of our Biosphere and how we can look after it better

Biospheres have three zones to deliver these functions:

Biosphere reserve zones / UNESCO UKMab

Biosphere reserve zones / UNESCO UKMab

Core Area – international and nationally important nature conservation sites where the natural environment is strictly protected.

Buffer Zone – the area surrounding the core Area(s), where nature is conserved alongside sensitive land uses and activities, such as sustainable agriculture, tourism and recreation.

Transition Area –  the wider area where people live and work, in which community participation and sustainable management are actively pursued.