The biosphere reserves also provide the ideal environment for research and development on wildlife. The purpose of biosphere reserves is the conservation of biological diversity in various ecosystems.
The biosphere reserves are internationally recognized within the framework of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme. The biosphere reserves are demarcated into three definite zones. They are core zone or the natural zone, buffer zone and transitional zone.
Various Zones of Biosphere Reserves:
The core zone or the natural zone is the inner part of the reserve, where every type of human interference is prohibited. This is an area which is completely undisturbed by the interference of human beings.
In the buffer zone, which surrounds the core zone, limited human activity is being allowed. Research and development activities are carried out in this zone.
The transition zone is the outermost area of the biosphere reserves, where a large number of human activities are permitted. In this area, there is usually close interaction between the management of the biosphere reserves and the local population of the area.
So far India has set up 15 biosphere reserves for protecting representative ecosystems, which include Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve, Simlipal Biosphere Reserve, Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve, Nandadevi Biosphere Reserve, Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve among others.
Out of these fifteen, four are part of World Network of Biosphere Reserves, based on the UNESCO’s MAB programme list. They are Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve, and the Gulf of Munnar Biosphere Reserve. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is the first biosphere reserve in India, established in 1986.