Biosphere

The biosphere (from Greek βίος bíos "life" and σφαῖρα sphaira "sphere") also known as the ecosphere (from Greek οἶκος oîkos "environment" and σφαῖρα), is the worldwide sum of all ecosystems. It can also be termed the zone of life on Earth, a closed system (apart from solar and cosmic radiation and heat from the interior of the Earth), and largely self-regulating.[1] By the most general biophysiological definition, the biosphere is the global ecological system integrating all living beings and their relationships, including their interaction with the elements of the lithosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. The biosphere is postulated to have evolved, beginning with a process of biopoiesis (life created naturally from non-living matter, such as simple organic compounds) or biogenesis (life created from living matter), at least some 3.5 billion years ago.[2][3]

In a general sense, biospheres are any closed, self-regulating systems containing ecosystems. This includes artificial biospheres such as Biosphere 2 and BIOS-3, and potentially ones on other planets or moons.[4]

Seawifs global biosphere
A false-color composite of global oceanic and terrestrial photoautotroph abundance, from September 2001 to August 2017. Provided by the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and ORBIMAGE.

Origin and use of the term

90 mile beach
A beach scene on Earth, simultaneously showing the lithosphere (ground), hydrosphere (ocean) and atmosphere (air)

The term "biosphere" was coined by geologist Eduard Suess in 1875, which he defined as the place on Earth's surface where life dwells.[5]

While the concept has a geological origin, it is an indication of the effect of both Charles Darwin and Matthew F. Maury on the Earth sciences. The biosphere's ecological context comes from the 1920s (see Vladimir I. Vernadsky), preceding the 1935 introduction of the term "ecosystem" by Sir Arthur Tansley (see ecology history). Vernadsky defined ecology as the science of the biosphere. It is an interdisciplinary concept for integrating astronomy, geophysics, meteorology, biogeography, evolution, geology, geochemistry, hydrology and, generally speaking, all life and Earth sciences.

Narrow definition

Geochemists define the biosphere as being the total sum of living organisms (the "biomass" or "biota" as referred to by biologists and ecologists). In this sense, the biosphere is but one of four separate components of the geochemical model, the other three being geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. When these four component spheres are combined into one system, it is known as the Ecosphere. This term was coined during the 1960s and encompasses both biological and physical components of the planet.[6]

The Second International Conference on Closed Life Systems defined biospherics as the science and technology of analogs and models of Earth's biosphere; i.e., artificial Earth-like biospheres.[7] Others may include the creation of artificial non-Earth biospheres—for example, human-centered biospheres or a native Martian biosphere—as part of the topic of biospherics.

Earth's biosphere

Age

Stromatolithe Paléoarchéen - MNHT.PAL.2009.10.1
Stromatolite fossil estimated at 3.2–3.6 billion years old

The earliest evidence for life on Earth includes biogenic graphite found in 3.7 billion-year-old metasedimentary rocks from Western Greenland[8] and microbial mat fossils found in 3.48 billion-year-old sandstone from Western Australia.[9][10] More recently, in 2015, "remains of biotic life" were found in 4.1 billion-year-old rocks in Western Australia.[11][12] In 2017, putative fossilized microorganisms (or microfossils) were announced to have been discovered in hydrothermal vent precipitates in the Nuvvuagittuq Belt of Quebec, Canada that were as old as 4.28 billion years, the oldest record of life on earth, suggesting "an almost instantaneous emergence of life" after ocean formation 4.4 billion years ago, and not long after the formation of the Earth 4.54 billion years ago.[13][14][15][16] According to biologist Stephen Blair Hedges, "If life arose relatively quickly on Earth ... then it could be common in the universe."[11]

Extent

Ruppelsvulture
Rüppell's vulture
XenophyophoreNOAA
Xenophyophore, a barophilic organism, from the Galapagos Rift.

Every part of the planet, from the polar ice caps to the equator, features life of some kind. Recent advances in microbiology have demonstrated that microbes live deep beneath the Earth's terrestrial surface, and that the total mass of microbial life in so-called "uninhabitable zones" may, in biomass, exceed all animal and plant life on the surface. The actual thickness of the biosphere on earth is difficult to measure. Birds typically fly at altitudes as high as 1,800 m (5,900 ft; 1.1 mi) and fish live as much as 8,372 m (27,467 ft; 5.202 mi) underwater in the Puerto Rico Trench.[2]

There are more extreme examples for life on the planet: Rüppell's vulture has been found at altitudes of 11,300 m (37,100 ft; 7.0 mi); bar-headed geese migrate at altitudes of at least 8,300 m (27,200 ft; 5.2 mi); yaks live at elevations as high as 5,400 m (17,700 ft; 3.4 mi) above sea level; mountain goats live up to 3,050 m (10,010 ft; 1.90 mi). Herbivorous animals at these elevations depend on lichens, grasses, and herbs.

Life forms live in every part of the Earth's biosphere, including soil, hot springs, inside rocks at least 19 km (12 mi) deep underground, the deepest parts of the ocean, and at least 64 km (40 mi) high in the atmosphere.[17][18][19] Microorganisms, under certain test conditions, have been observed to survive the vacuum of outer space.[20][21] The total amount of soil and subsurface bacterial carbon is estimated as 5 × 1017 g, or the "weight of the United Kingdom".[17] The mass of prokaryote microorganisms—which includes bacteria and archaea, but not the nucleated eukaryote microorganisms—may be as much as 0.8 trillion tons of carbon (of the total biosphere mass, estimated at between 1 and 4 trillion tons).[22] Barophilic marine microbes have been found at more than a depth of 10,000 m (33,000 ft; 6.2 mi) in the Mariana Trench, the deepest spot in the Earth's oceans.[23] In fact, single-celled life forms have been found in the deepest part of the Mariana Trench, by the Challenger Deep, at depths of 11,034 m (36,201 ft; 6.856 mi).[24][25][26] Other researchers reported related studies that microorganisms thrive inside rocks up to 580 m (1,900 ft; 0.36 mi) below the sea floor under 2,590 m (8,500 ft; 1.61 mi) of ocean off the coast of the northwestern United States,[25][27] as well as 2,400 m (7,900 ft; 1.5 mi) beneath the seabed off Japan.[28] Culturable thermophilic microbes have been extracted from cores drilled more than 5,000 m (16,000 ft; 3.1 mi) into the Earth's crust in Sweden,[29] from rocks between 65–75 °C (149–167 °F). Temperature increases with increasing depth into the Earth's crust. The rate at which the temperature increases depends on many factors, including type of crust (continental vs. oceanic), rock type, geographic location, etc. The greatest known temperature at which microbial life can exist is 122 °C (252 °F) (Methanopyrus kandleri Strain 116), and it is likely that the limit of life in the "deep biosphere" is defined by temperature rather than absolute depth. On 20 August 2014, scientists confirmed the existence of microorganisms living 800 m (2,600 ft; 0.50 mi) below the ice of Antarctica.[30][31] According to one researcher, "You can find microbes everywhere — they're extremely adaptable to conditions, and survive wherever they are."[25]

Our biosphere is divided into a number of biomes, inhabited by fairly similar flora and fauna. On land, biomes are separated primarily by latitude. Terrestrial biomes lying within the Arctic and Antarctic Circles are relatively barren of plant and animal life, while most of the more populous biomes lie near the equator.

Annual variation

On land, vegetation appears on a scale from brown (low vegetation) to dark green (lots of vegetation); at the ocean surface, phytoplankton are indicated on a scale from purple (low) to yellow (high). This visualization was created with data from satellites including SeaWiFS, and instruments including the NASA/NOAA Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer.

Globe Spin
NorthAmericaCycle Small
LaNina Mollweide
Mollweide Cycle

Artificial biospheres

Biosphere 2 4888964549
Biosphere 2 in Arizona.

Experimental biospheres, also called closed ecological systems, have been created to study ecosystems and the potential for supporting life outside the earth. These include spacecraft and the following terrestrial laboratories:

Extraterrestrial biospheres

No biospheres have been detected beyond the Earth; therefore, the existence of extraterrestrial biospheres remains hypothetical. The rare Earth hypothesis suggests they should be very rare, save ones composed of microbial life only.[35] On the other hand, Earth analogs may be quite numerous, at least in the Milky Way galaxy, given the large number of planets.[36] Three of the planets discovered orbiting TRAPPIST-1 could possibly contain biospheres.[37] Given limited understanding of abiogenesis, it is currently unknown what percentage of these planets actually develop biospheres.

Based on observations by the Kepler Space Telescope team, it has been calculated that provided the probability of abiogenesis is higher than 1 to 1000, the closest alien biosphere should be within 100 light-years from the Earth.[38]

It is also possible that artificial biospheres will be created during the future, for example on Mars.[39] The process of creating an uncontained system that mimics the function of Earth's biosphere is called terraforming.[40]

See also

References

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Further reading

External links

Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve

The Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve അഗസ്ത്യമല ജെെവ സംരക്ഷണ മേഖല அகஸ்தியமலை ஜூபா பாதுகாப்பு பகுதி was Established in 2001 and includes 3,500.36 km2 (1,351.50 sq mi) of which 1828 km² is in Kerala and 1672.36 km² is in Tamil Nadu.Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve became part of World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 2016. Is also under UNESCO's world list of biosphere reserve

Biosphere 2

Biosphere 2 is an American Earth system science research facility located in Oracle, Arizona. It has been owned by the University of Arizona since 2011. Its mission is to serve as a center for research, outreach, teaching, and lifelong learning about Earth, its living systems, and its place in the universe. It is a 3.14-acre (1.27-hectare) structure originally built to be an artificial, materially closed ecological system, or vivarium. It remains the largest closed system ever created.Biosphere 2 was originally meant to demonstrate the viability of closed ecological systems to support and maintain human life in outer space. It was designed to explore the web of interactions within life systems in a structure with different areas based on various biological biomes. In addition to the several biomes and living quarters for people, there was an agricultural area and work space to study the interactions between humans, farming, technology and the rest of nature as a new kind of laboratory for the study of the global ecology. Its mission was a two-year closure experiment with a crew of eight humans ("biospherians"). Long-term it was seen as a precursor to gain knowledge about the use of closed biospheres in space colonization. As an experimental ecological facility it allowed the study and manipulation of a mini biospheric system without harming Earth's biosphere. Its seven biome areas were a 1,900-square-meter (20,000 sq ft) rainforest, an 850-square-meter (9,100 sq ft) ocean with a coral reef, a 450-square-meter (4,800 sq ft) mangrove wetlands, a 1,300-square-metre (14,000 sq ft) savannah grassland, a 1,400-square-meter (15,000 sq ft) fog desert, and two anthropogenic biomes: a 2,500-square-meter (27,000 sq ft) agricultural system and a human habitat with living spaces, laboratories and workshops. Below ground was an extensive part of the technical infrastructure. Heating and cooling water circulated through independent piping systems and passive solar input through the glass space frame panels covering most of the facility, and electrical power was supplied into Biosphere 2 from an onsite natural gas energy center.Biosphere 2 was only used twice for its original intended purposes as a closed-system experiment: once from 1991 to 1993, and the second time from March to September 1994. Both attempts, though heavily publicized, ran into problems including low amounts of food and oxygen, die-offs of many animals and plants included in the experiment (though this was anticipated since the project used a strategy of deliberately "species-packing" anticipating losses as the biomes developed), group dynamic tensions among the resident crew, outside politics and a power struggle over management and direction of the project. Nevertheless, the closure experiments set world records in closed ecological systems, agricultural production, health improvements with the high nutrient and low caloric diet the crew followed, and insights into the self-organization of complex biomic systems and atmospheric dynamics. The second closure experiment achieved total food sufficiency and did not require injection of oxygen.In June 1994, during the middle of the second experiment, the managing company, Space Biosphere Ventures, was dissolved, and the facility was left in limbo. Columbia University assumed management of the facility in 1995 and used it to run experiments until 2003. It then looked in danger of being demolished to make way for housing and retail stores, but was taken over for research by the University of Arizona in 2007. The University of Arizona took full ownership of the structure in 2011.

Biosphere reserves of India

The Indian government has established 18 biosphere reserves in India, (categories roughly corresponding to IUCN Category V Protected areas), which protect larger areas of natural habitat (than a National Park or Animal Sanctuary), and often include one or more National Parks or preserves, along with 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 who inhabit these regions, and their ways of life. Animals are protected and saved here.

Biosphere reserves of the Philippines

Biosphere reserves are areas comprising terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. The biosphere reserve title is handed over by UNESCO. Each reserve promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. Biosphere reserves are ‘Science for Sustainability support sites’ – 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.

California Coast Ranges

The Coast Ranges of California span 400 miles (640 km) from Del Norte or Humboldt County, California, south to Santa Barbara County. The other three coastal California mountain ranges are the Transverse Ranges, Peninsular Ranges and the Klamath Mountains.Physiographically, they are a section of the larger Pacific Border province, which in turn are part of the larger Pacific Mountain System physiographic division. UNESCO has included the "California Coast Ranges Biosphere Reserve" in its Man and the Biosphere Programme of World Network of Biosphere Reserves since 1983.

Carbon cycle

The carbon cycle is the biogeochemical cycle by which carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, pedosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere of the Earth. Carbon is the main component of biological compounds as well as a major component of many minerals such as limestone. Along with the nitrogen cycle and the water cycle, the carbon cycle comprises a sequence of events that are key to make Earth capable of sustaining life. It describes the movement of carbon as it is recycled and reused throughout the biosphere, as well as long-term processes of carbon sequestration to and release from carbon sinks.

The carbon cycle was discovered by Joseph Priestley and Antoine Lavoisier, and popularized by Humphry Davy.

Cascade Head

Cascade Head is a headland and 270-acre (110 ha) UNESCO biosphere reserve and United States Forest Service Experimental Forest. It is situated 85 miles (137 km) southwest of Portland, Oregon on the Oregon Coast between Lincoln City and Neskowin. Cascade Head Preserve is a Nature Conservancy Selected Site.

Gulf of Mannar

The Gulf of Mannar is a large shallow bay forming part of the Laccadive Sea in the Indian Ocean. It lies between the southeastern tip of India and the west coast of Sri Lanka, in the Coromandel Coast region. The chain of low islands and reefs known as Ramsethu, also called Adam's Bridge, which includes Mannar Island, separates the Gulf of Mannar from Palk Bay, which lies to the north between India and Sri Lanka. The estuaries of Thamirabarani River and Vaipar River of South India and the Malvathu Oya (Malvathu River) of Sri Lanka drain into the Gulf. The dugong (sea cow) is found here.

Man and the Biosphere Programme

Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) is an intergovernmental scientific programme, launched in 1971 by UNESCO, that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments.

MAB's work engages fully with the international development agenda—specially with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Post 2015 Development Agenda—and addresses challenges linked to scientific, environmental, societal and development issues in diverse ecosystems; from mountain regions to marine, coastal and island areas; from tropical forests to drylands and urban areas. MAB combines the natural and social sciences, economics and education to improve human livelihoods and the equitable sharing of benefits, and to safeguard natural and managed ecosystems, thus promoting innovative approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate, and environmentally sustainable.

The MAB programme provides a unique platform for cooperation on research and development, capacity-building and networking to share information, knowledge and experience on three interlinked issues: biodiversity loss, climate change and sustainable development. It contributes not only to better understanding of the environment, but also promotes greater involvement of science and scientists in policy development concerning the wise use of biological diversity.

As of December 2018, 686 biosphere reserves in 122 countries, including 20 transboundary sites, have been included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

Montreal Biosphere

The Biosphere (French: "La Biosphère de Montréal") is a museum dedicated to the environment. It is located at Parc Jean-Drapeau, on Saint Helen's Island in the former pavilion of the United States for the 1967 World Fair, Expo 67 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The museum's geodesic dome was designed by Buckminster Fuller.

Niagara Escarpment

The Niagara Escarpment is a long escarpment, or cuesta, in the United States and Canada that runs predominantly east/west from New York, through Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois. The escarpment is most famous as the cliff over which the Niagara River plunges at Niagara Falls, for which it is named.

The Escarpment is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. It has the oldest forest ecosystem and trees in eastern North America.The Escarpment is composed of the Lockport geological formation of Silurian age, and is similar to the Onondaga geological formation, which runs parallel to it and just to the south, through western New York and southern Ontario. The Escarpment is the most prominent of several escarpments formed in the bedrock of the Great Lakes Basin. From its easternmost point near Watertown, New York, the escarpment shapes in part the individual basins and landforms of Lakes Ontario, Huron, and Michigan. In Rochester, New York, three waterfalls over the escarpment are where the Genesee River flows through the city. The escarpment thence runs westward to the Niagara River, forming a deep gorge north of Niagara Falls, which itself cascades over the escarpment. In southern Ontario, it spans the Niagara Peninsula, closely following the Lake Ontario shore through the cities of St. Catharines, Hamilton, and Dundas, where it takes a sharp turn north in the town of Milton toward Georgian Bay. It then follows the Georgian Bay shore northwestwards to form the spine of the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island, as well as several smaller islands in northern Lake Huron, where it turns westwards into the Upper Peninsula of northern Michigan, south of Sault Ste. Marie. It then extends southwards into Wisconsin following the Door Peninsula through the Bayshore Blufflands and then more inland from the western coast of Lake Michigan and Milwaukee, ending northwest of Chicago near the Wisconsin-Illinois border.

Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve

The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is an International Biosphere Reserve in the Western Ghats and Nilgiri Hills ranges of South India. The Nilgiri Sub-Cluster is a part of the Western Ghats, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012. It includes the Aralam, Mudumalai, Mukurthi, Nagarhole, Bandipur and Silent Valley national parks, as well as the Wayanad and Sathyamangalam wildlife sanctuaries.

A fascinating ecosystem of the hill ranges of Nilgiris and its surrounding environments covering a tract of over 5000 square kilometers was constituted as Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in September 1986 under Man and Biosphere Programme. Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve is India's first and foremost biosphere reserves with a heritage, rich in flora and fauna. Tribal groups like the Todas, Kotas, Irullas, Kurumbas, Paniyas, Adiyans, Edanadan Chettis, Allar, Malayan, etc., are native to the reserve.

North Devon's Biosphere Reserve

North Devon's Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve in North Devon. It covers 55 square miles (140 km2) and is centred on Braunton Burrows, the largest sand dune system (psammosere) in England. The boundaries of the reserve follow the edges of the conjoined catchment basin of the Rivers Taw and the Torridge and stretch out to sea to include the island of Lundy. The biosphere reserve is primarily lowland farmland, and includes many protected sites including 63 Sites of Special Scientific Interest which protect habitats such as culm grassland and broadleaved woodlands. The most populous settlements in its buffer area are Barnstaple, Bideford, Northam, Ilfracombe, and Okehampton.

The reserve was the first of the "new style" of UNESCO biosphere reserves in the United Kingdom when it was expanded from its previous area in 2002. The new guidelines encourage its management to strike a balance between people and conservation of the environment they live in through sustainability, income generation, and a reduction in poverty. It is managed by the Biosphere Reserve Partnership, which includes a number of interested parties such as the Environment Agency, Natural England, Devon Wildlife Trust, and the National Trust. The partnership organises landscape projects and works closely with the inhabitants of the reserve.

Within the reserve's core area are the sand dune system and culm grassland. To the west in Bideford Bay (visible from the beach element of the dunes, Saunton Sands which is a due-west facing surfing beach) is a coral reef with a diversity of coral and marine life seen nowhere else in Britain. The sand dunes have a rich habitat of hundreds of flowering plants while the Taw-Torridge estuary is an important feeding area for long-journey migratory birds.

The economy of North Devon is largely supported by tourism. Four million people per year visit the area, and visitor numbers can rise as high as 60,000 per day in August. Most of these people come because of the environment.

Pilón Lajas Biosphere Reserve and Communal Lands

Pilón Lajas Biosphere Reserve and Communal Lands (Reserva de Biosfera y Tierra Comunitaria de Origen Pilón Lajas) is a protected area in Bolivia located in the departments of La Paz (Sud Yungas, Larecaja and Franz Tamayo provinces) and Beni (José Ballivián Province), in their northern and western parts, respectively, about 350 km northeast of La Paz and 50 km west of San Borja. It lies largely within the Bolivian Yungas ecoregion.

The main river that flows in the Pilon Lajas area is the Quiquibey River.

As of 2004, the indigenous population of Pilón Lajas was 1,394, distributed across 25 communities. Predominantly these residents are members of the Mosetén, Tsimané, and Tacana peoples, but they also include intermarried Quechuas, Aymaras, Lecos and Yuracarés.

Wildlife of India

India is home to a variety of Animals. Apart from a handful of domesticated animals, such as cows, water buffaloes, goats, chickens, and both Bactrian and Dromedary camels, India has a wide variety of animals native to the country. It is home to Bengal and Indochinese tigers, Asiatic lions, Indian and Indochinese leopards, snow leopards, clouded leopards, various species of Deer, including Chital, Hangul, Barasingha; the Indian Elephant, the Great Indian Rhinoceros, and many others. The region's diverse wildlife is preserved in more than 120 national parks, 18 Bio-reserves and more than 500 wildlife sanctuaries across the country. India has some of the most biodiverse regions of the world and contains four of the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots – the Western Ghats, the Eastern Himalayas, Indo-Burma and Sunda Land. Wildlife management is essential to preserve the rare and endangered endemic species. India is one of the seventeen megadiverse countries. According to one study, India along with the other 16 megadiverse countries is home to about 60-70% of the world's biodiversity. India, lying within the Indomalaya ecozone, is home to about 7.6% of all mammalian, 12.6% of avian (bird), 6.2% of reptilian, and 6.0% of flowering plant species.Many Indian species are descendants of taxa originating in Gondwana, of which India originally was a part. Peninsular India's subsequent movement towards, and collision with, the Laurasian landmass set off a mass exchange of species. However, volcanism and climatic change 20 million years ago caused the extinction of many endemic Indian forms. Soon thereafter, mammals entered India from Asia through two zoogeographical passes on either side of the emerging Himalaya. As a result, among Indian species, only 12.6% of mammals and 4.5% of birds are endemic, contrasting with 45.8% of reptiles and 55.8% of amphibians. Notable endemics are the Nilgiri leaf monkey and the brown and carmine Beddome's toad of the Western Ghats. India contains 172, or 2.9%, of IUCN-designated threatened species. These include the Asian elephant, the Asiatic lion, Bengal tiger, Indian rhinoceros, mugger crocodile, and Indian white-rumped vulture, which suffered a near-extinction from ingesting the carrion of diclofenac-treated cattle.In recent decades, human encroachment has posed a threat to India's wildlife; in response, the system of national parks and protected areas, first established in 1935, was substantially expanded. In 1972, India enacted the Wildlife Protection Act and Project Tiger to safeguard crucial habitat; further federal protections were promulgated in the 1980s. Along with over 515 wildlife sanctuaries, India now hosts 18 biosphere reserves, 10 of which are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves; 26 wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention.

The peepul tree, shown on the seals of Mohenjo-daro, shaded Gautama Buddha as he sought enlightenment. The varied and rich wildlife of India has had a profound impact on the region's popular culture. The wildlife has also been made famous in The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. India's wildlife has been the subject of numerous other tales and fables such as the Panchatantra.

World Network of Biosphere Reserves

The UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) covers internationally designated protected areas, each known as biosphere reserves, that are meant to demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature (e.g. encourage sustainable development).

World Network of Biosphere Reserves in Africa

Under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), there are 70 biosphere reserves recognized as part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in Africa as of 2016. These are distributed across 28 countries. While biosphere reserves in Sub-Saharan Africa are organised in the AfriMAB regional network, biosphere reserves in Northern African countries belong to ArabMAB, UNESCO's regional MAB network for Arab countries (see World Network of Biosphere Reserves in the Arab States for reserves in these countries).

World Network of Biosphere Reserves in Asia and the Pacific

Under UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme, there are 142 biosphere reserves recognized as part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in Asia and the Pacific as of April 2016. These are distributed across 24 countries in the region.

World Network of Biosphere Reserves in Europe and North America

Under UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme, there are 302 biosphere reserves recognized as part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in Europe and North America (as of April 2016). These are distributed across 36 countries in the region.Biosphere reserves operating under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme aim to achieve three mandate management objectives of conservation, sustainable socio-economic development, and logistic support.

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