Biosphere Reserves in India
Biosphere reserves are sites established by countries and recognized under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme.
These sites are established to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science.
The program of Biosphere Reserve was initiated by UNESCO in 1971.
These protect those areas of natural habitat which are larger than a National Park or Animal Sanctuary.
Each Biosphere reserve includes one or more National Parks along 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 inhabiting these regions.
The first biosphere reserve of the world was established in 1979.
Biosphere reserves comprise terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems.
Biosphere reserves are special places for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity.
Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments and remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located.
Their status is internationally recognized.
Structure of Biosphere Reserves:
The core zone:
It comprises a strictly protected ecosystem.
It should be kept absolutely undisturbed.
A core zone secures legal protection.
Research activities that do not affect natural processes and wildlife are allowed in the zone.
The buffer zone:
It surrounds or adjoins the core zone.
It is used for activities compatible with sound ecological practices that can reinforce scientific research, monitoring, training, and education.
Limited recreation, tourism, fishing, and grazing is allowed in this Zone.
Research and educational activities are allowed in the zone.
The transition Zone:
It is the outermost part of the Biosphere Reserve.
It is the part of the reserve where the greatest activity is allowed.
This includes settlements, croplands, managed forests and areas for intensive recreation.
Presently, there are 18 notified biosphere reserves in India.
11 of the eighteen biosphere reserves are a part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, based on the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme list.
 Nilgiri, 2000
 Gulf of Mannar, 2001
 Sunderban, 2001
 Nanda Devi, 2004
 Nokrek, 2009
 Pachmarhi, 2009
 Similipal, 2009
 Achanakmar-Amarkantak, 2012
 Great Nicobar, 2013
 Agasthyamala, 2016
 Khangchendzonga, 2018
18 notified Biosphere Reserves in India
Sr. No. Year Name Location State Key fauna 1 1986 Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve
Area: 5520 km2
Part of Waynad, Nagarhole, Bandipur and Mudumalai, Nilambur, Silent Valley and Siruvani Hills
Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka Nilgiri tahr, Tiger,
2 1988 Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve
Area: 5860 km2
Parts of Chamoli District, Pithoragarh District & Bageshwar District
Uttarakhand Snow Leopard, Himalayan Black Bear 3 1989 Gulf of Mannar
Area: 10500 km2
The Indian part of Gulf of Mannar extending from Rameswaram island in the North to Kanyakumari in the South of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka
Tamil Nadu Endangered sea cow (Dugong) 4 1988 Nokrek
Area: 820 km2
In west Garo Hills
Meghalaya Red panda 5 1989 Sundarbans
Area: 9630 km2
Part of delta of Ganges and Brahmaputra river system
West Bengal Royal Bengal Tiger 6 1989 Manas
Area: 2837 km2
Part of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamrup and Darrang Districts
Assam Asiatic Elephant, Tiger, Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, Golden Langur, Pygmy hog 7 1994 Simlipal
Area: 4374 km2
Part of Mayurbhanj district
Odisha Gaur, royal Bengal tiger, Asian elephant 8 1998 Dihang-Dibang
Area: 5112 km2
Part of Siang and Dibang Valley
Arunachal Pradesh Mishmi Takin, Musk Deer 9 1999 Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve
Area: 4981 km2
Parts of Betul District, Hoshangabad District, and Chhindwara District
Madhya Pradesh Giant squirrel, flying squirrel 10 2005 Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve
Area: 3835 km2
Part of Annupur, Dindori and Bilaspur districts
Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh Four-horned antelope, Indian wild dog, Sarus crane, White-rumped vulture, Philautus (Sacred grove bush frog) 11 2008 Great Rann of Kutch
Area: 12454 km2
Part of Kutch, Morbi, Surendranagar and Patan districts.
Gujarat Indian wild ass 12 2009 Cold Desert
Area: 7770 km2
Pin Valley National Park and surroundings; Chandratal and Sarchu & Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary
Himachal Pradesh Snow leopard 13 2000 Khangchendzonga
Area: 2620 km2
Parts of Kangchenjunga
Sikkim Snow leopard, Red panda 14 2001 Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve
Area: 3500 km2
Neyyar, Peppara and Shenduruny Wildlife Sanctuary and their adjoining areas
Kerala, Tamil Nadu Nilgiri tahr, Elephants 15 1989 Great Nicobar
Area: 885 km2
Southernmost islands of Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Andaman and Nicobar Islands Saltwater crocodile 16 1997 Dibru-Saikhowa
Area: 765 km2
Part of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts
Assam white-winged wood duck, water buffalo, black-breasted parrotbill, tiger, capped langur 17 2010 Seshachalam Hills
Area: 4755 km2
Seshachalam Hill Ranges covering parts of Chittoor and Kadapa districts
Andhra Pradesh Slender Loris 18 2011 Panna
Area: 2998 km2
Part of Panna District and Chhatarpur District
[Catchment Area of the Ken River]
Madhya Pradesh Tiger, chital, chinkara, sambhar and sloth bear
Great Rann of Kutch is the largest Biosphere Reserve in India.
Dibru-Saikhowa is the smallest Biosphere Reserve in India.
Biosphere Reserves, Wildlife Sanctuaries, and National Parks
Biosphere Reserves are the biggest entity among the three.
As of May 2019, there were 104 national parks in India.
As of May 2019, there were 551 wildlife sanctuaries in India.