What are Biosphere reserves?

Biosphere reserves are ‘learning places for sustainable development. They provide support in research and analysis of issues of conservation of sustainable development. They are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems.

Biosphere reserves include the prevention and management of biodiversity. They conserve genetic resources, species, ecosystems, and landscapes. Biosphere reserves are declared by the Central or state government through the program of MAB under UNESCO.

Man and Biosphere- MAB:

Man and Biosphere- MAB was Launched by UNESCO in 1971 for the establishment of the scientific basis for the improvement of the relationship between man and the environment.

The MAB defines biospheres as:

Core Area: it comprises a strictly protected ecosystem that contributes to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species, and genetic variation.

Buffer Zone: It surrounds the core area. The buffer zone is used for activities compatible with sound ecological practices which reinforce scientific research, monitoring, training, and education.

Transition Area: It is the part of the reserve where the greatest activity is allowed, foresting economic and human development that is socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable.

  • Currently, there are 714 biosphere reserves in 129  countries, including 21 transboundary sites, that belong to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR). Their distribution as :
    • 85 sites in 31 countries in Africa
    • 33 sites in 12 countries in the Arab States
    • 157 sites in 24 countries in Asia and the Pacific
    • 302 sites in 38 countries in Europe and North America
    • 130 sites in 21 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Which is the first Biosphere Reserve of India?

Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve the part of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka is the first Biosphere Reserve of India.

Which is the largest and smallest biosphere reserve in India?

The largest is Runn of kutch in Gujarat and the smallest one is Dibru- Saikhoa in Assam.

There are eighteen Biosphere reserves in India listed below:

S.No Name Year State Key Fauna
1 Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve  1986 Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka

  • Waynad, Nagarhole, 
  • Bandipur and Mudumalai,
  •  Nilambur, Silent Valley
Nilgiri tahr, tiger, lion-tailed macaque
2 Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve 1988 Uttarakhand

Chamoli District, Pithoragarh District & Bageshwar District

Snow leopard, Himalayan black bear
3 Nokrek Biosphere Reserve 1988 Meghalaya

West Garo Hills

Red panda
4 Gulf of Mannar 1989 Tamil Nadu

The Indian part of the Gulf of Mannar extending from Rameswaram island in the north to Kanyakumari 

5 Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve 1989 West Bengal

delta of Ganges and Brahmaputra river system

Royal Bengal tiger
6 Manas Biosphere Reserve 1989 Assam

  • Kokrajhar,
  •  Bongaigaon,
  • Barpeta
  • Nalbari
  • Kamrup,
  •  Darrang Districts
Asiatic elephant, Tiger, Assam roofed turtle, Golden langur, Pigmy hog
7 Simlipal Biosphere Reserve 1994 Odisha

Part of Mayurbhanj district

Gaur, royal Bengal tiger, Asian elephant
8 Dihang-Dibang 1998 Arunachal Pradesh

Part of Siang and Dibang Valley

Mishmi takin, Musk deer
9 Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve 1999 Madhya Pradesh

Parts of Betul District, Hoshangabad District and Chhindwara District

Giant squirrel, Flying squirrel
10 Achanakmar- Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve 2005 Madhyapradesh

Annupur, Dindori and Bilaspur 

Four-horned antelope, Indian wild dog, Sarus crane, white-rumped vulture, sacred grove bush frog
11 Great Rann of Kutch Biosphere Reserve 2008 Gujarat

 Kutch, Morbi, Surendranagar,  Patan districts

the largest biosphere reserve in India.

Indian wild ass
12 Cold Desert 2009 Himachal Pradesh

Pin Valley National Park and surrounding; Chandratal and Sarchu & Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary

Snow leopard
13 Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve 2000 Sikkim

Parts of Kangchenjunga

Snow leopard, red panda
14 Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve 20001 Kerala, Tamilnadu

Neyyar, Peppara, and Shenduruny Wildlife Sanctuary and their adjoining areas

Nilgiri tahr, Asian elephant
15 Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve 1989 Andaman and Nicobar islands Saltwater crocodile
16 Dibru-Saikhowa Biosphere Reserve 1997 Assam

Part of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts

White-winged wood duck, water buffalo, black-breasted parrotbill, tiger, capped langur
17 Seshachalm hills Biosphere Reserve 2010 Andhra Pradesh

parts of Chittoor and Kadapa districts

Slender loris
18 Panna Biosphere Reserve 2011 Madhya Pradesh

Part of Panna and Chhattarpur districts in Madhya Pradesh



12 reserves were announced as World Network of Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO under Man And Biosphere (MAB) program list.

S.no year Name State
1 2000 Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka
2 2001 Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve TamilNadu
3 2001 Sundarbans West Bengal
4 2004 Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve Uttarakhand
5 2009 Nokrek Biosphere Reserve Meghalaya
6 2009 Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve Madhyapradesh
7 2009 Simlipal Biosphere Reserve Odisha
8 2012 Achankamar Biosphere Reserve Madhyapradesh and Chhattisgarh
9 2013 Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve Andaman and Nicobar Islands
10 2016 Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve Kerala and Tamil Nadu
11 2018 Khangchendzonga National park Sikkim
12 2020 Panna National Park Madhyapradesh


Map showing Biosphere Reserves in India

Map showing Biosphere Reserves in India



Rivers of India and their main Tributaries

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