Biosphere Reserves in India

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:

Structure of Biosphere Reserves

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.

[1] Nilgiri, 2000

[2] Gulf of Mannar, 2001

[3] Sunderban, 2001

[4] Nanda Devi, 2004

[5] Nokrek, 2009

[6] Pachmarhi, 2009

[7] Similipal, 2009

[8] Achanakmar-Amarkantak, 2012

[9] Great Nicobar, 2013

[10] Agasthyamala, 2016

[11] Khangchendzonga, 2018


  18 notified Biosphere Reserves in India

Sr. No.YearNameLocationStateKey fauna
11986Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve
Area: 5520 km2

Part of Waynad, Nagarhole, Bandipur and Mudumalai, Nilambur, Silent Valley and Siruvani Hills
(Western Ghats)
Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and KarnatakaNilgiri tahr, Tiger,
lion-tailed macaque
21988Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve

Area: 5860 km2
Parts of Chamoli District, Pithoragarh District & Bageshwar District
[Western Himalayas]
UttarakhandSnow Leopard, Himalayan Black Bear
31989Gulf 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 NaduEndangered sea cow (Dugong)

Area: 820 km2
In west Garo Hills
[Eastern hills]
MeghalayaRed panda
Area: 9630 km2
Part of delta of Ganges and Brahmaputra river system
[Gangetic Delta]
West BengalRoyal Bengal Tiger
Area: 2837 km2
Part of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamrup and Darrang Districts
[Eastern Hills]
AssamAsiatic Elephant, Tiger, Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, Golden Langur, Pygmy hog
Area: 4374 km2
Part of Mayurbhanj district
[Deccan Peninsula]
OdishaGaur, royal Bengal tiger, Asian elephant

Area: 5112 km2
Part of Siang and Dibang Valley
[Eastern Himalaya]
Arunachal PradeshMishmi Takin, Musk Deer
91999Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve
Area: 4981 km2
Parts of Betul District, Hoshangabad District, and Chhindwara District
Madhya PradeshGiant squirrel, flying squirrel
102005Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve
Area: 3835 km2
Part of Annupur, Dindori and Bilaspur districts
[Maikala Hills]
Madhya Pradesh, ChhattisgarhFour-horned antelope, Indian wild dog, Sarus crane, White-rumped vulture, Philautus (Sacred grove bush frog)
112008Great Rann of Kutch
Area: 12454 km2
Part of Kutch, Morbi, Surendranagar and Patan districts.
GujaratIndian wild ass
122009Cold Desert
Area: 7770 km2
Pin Valley National Park and surroundings; Chandratal and Sarchu & Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary
[Western Himalayas]
Himachal PradeshSnow leopard
Area: 2620 km2
Parts of Kangchenjunga
[East Himalayas]
SikkimSnow leopard, Red panda
142001Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve
Area: 3500 km2
Neyyar, Peppara and Shenduruny Wildlife Sanctuary and their adjoining areas
[Western Ghats]
Kerala, Tamil NaduNilgiri tahr, Elephants
151989Great Nicobar
Area: 885 km2
Southernmost islands of Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Andaman and Nicobar IslandsSaltwater crocodile
Area: 765 km2
Part of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts
[Eastern Hills]
Assamwhite-winged wood duck, water buffalo, black-breasted parrotbill, tiger, capped langur
172010Seshachalam Hills
Area: 4755 km2
Seshachalam Hill Ranges covering parts of Chittoor and Kadapa districts
[Eastern Ghats]
Andhra PradeshSlender Loris
Area: 2998 km2
Part of Panna District and Chhatarpur District

[Catchment Area of the Ken River]
Madhya PradeshTiger, 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, Wildlife Sanctuaries, and National Parks 

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. 



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