Living Network of Planet Earth

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The new 2019 year includes a very important date – the 40th anniversary of the beginning of work on the program “Man and the Biosphere” in Russia and the appearance of the first biosphere reserves in our country. We will tell you about this in detail in a series of publications on our website.
Our Prioksko-Terrasny Reserve was one of the first in Russia that 40 years ago received a certificate of biosphere reserves. We are very proud of this and try to match the high mission of the Man and the Biosphere program.

With the advent of the program “Man and Biosphere”, the unification of countries and peoples to realize the eternal dream of the harmonious coexistence of nature and man has ceased to be a topic of utopian theories. This has been the subject of formal international agreements and joint work on a specific program of action.
The past 2018 was a year of two very important anniversaries, of great importance both for those who are professionally engaged in the preservation of nature, and for all whom this topic does not leave indifferent.

— First, in 1948, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was founded on the initiative of UNESCO.
— Second, in 1968, the UNESCO Conference on the Protection and Rational Use of Biosphere Resources was held in Paris to review these issues: for the first time in history, ideas were formulated on it, which later formed the basis of the UNESCO program “Man and the Biosphere” (MAB).

We will tell you about the history of the program “Man and the Biosphere” in a separate article on our website.
What is the program “Man and the biosphere”?

The concept of the MAB program is based on the thesis that humankind’s future is common and inseparable from the fate of the living shell of the planet. Human society seeks to build its life in such a way as not to destroy the biosphere, but to create opportunities for harmonious coexistence with nature. This circumstance is considered the most important condition for the sustainable development of human society.

The program builds its work on long-term interdisciplinary research. The reference points, model objects for research on this program are territories that are engaged both in the conservation of biological diversity and in the long-term monitoring of environmental processes and the assessment of human influence on them. These key areas of the ecological framework of the Earth, resistant to anthropogenic pressures, capable of preventing irreversible processes in ecosystems and ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, have become biosphere reserves. At the same time, each of these territories is not only a carefully preserved source of wild nature, but also an outpost for building prosperous societies living in harmony with the biosphere.
The term “biosphere reserves appeared only in 1974, when the first 14“ pilot ”projects of the MAB program were already operating. At the same time, criteria were determined by which a particular specially protected natural area could claim to be included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. According to these criteria, the activity of biosphere reserves should combine the performance of three main functions:
– conservation – a contribution to the preservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic varieties;
– development – promoting economic and social development that is sustainable in socio-cultural and environmental terms;
– scientific and technical function – support for demonstration projects, environmental education and training in the field of the environment, research and monitoring related to local regional, national and global issues of environmental conservation and sustainable development.
At the same time, the work of biosphere reserves in all these three areas should be aimed at making them indicative objects for studying and demonstrating approaches to environmental conservation and sustainable development on a regional scale.

According to the general opinion of МAB specialists, each biosphere reserve should comply with the key zoning principle. It lies in the fact that in this reserve should be allocated three functional zones: the core (one or more), the buffer zone and the transition zone.
The core or main territory is inviolable wilderness, the least disturbed ecosystem, center of biological diversity. Any activity in the core is minimal, for example, it could be monitoring studies.
The buffer zone is located around the cores and is used to carry out environmentally safe activities, such as eco-tourism, as well as applied and basic research.
In a transitional zone or zone of cooperation, restrictions apply only to certain forms of activity that can cause irreparable damage to natural complexes protected by biosphere reserves. Here, the principle of voluntary cooperation between the reserve and its immediate environment: the locals and local business and administrations of rural settlements. The goal of this cooperation is the rational management of resources and their sustainable reproduction, a mutually beneficial existence based on environmental education.

The first biosphere reserves began to appear on the basis of already existing protected areas. The large-scale creation of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves began in 1976.
In the first 10 years since the founding of the Man and the Biosphere program, 200 biosphere reserves have been created in 55 countries of the world. Today there are more than 500 biosphere reserves in 109 countries around the world, including a number of international or transnational reserves.
In Russia, biosphere reserves are often called biosphere reserves. Among them – 35 state nature reserves and 7 national parks, their geography – from Kursk to Vladivostok, from the Taimyr Peninsula to the Caucasus.

How our work is going on within the framework of this mission, how our colleagues work in other biosphere reserves, and of course, how we will get the title of “biosphere” reserve on our website!