Do you know there are 18 biosphere reserves in India, which are guarded territories to preserve biodiversity and foster sustainable growth? UNESCO distinguishes these reserves under The Man and the Biosphere Programme or what is commonly known as MAB.
What are biosphere reserves?
Biosphere reserves in India are intended to serve as role models for conservation and sustainable development, which integrates ecological preservation with sustainable resources. These reserves or zones primarily consist of a core area, which is severely preserved for ecological reasons and does not permit any kind of human activities and a transition zone, where human habitation, as well as resource usage, is permitted.
In biosphere reserves in India, scientific research, education, and instructional activities are carried on to encourage wise use of the environment, which also boosts the local economy through ecotourism and resource protection.
Visiting the numerous Biosphere Reserves in India is unquestionably a must-do escapade. Out of the 18 biosphere reserves in India, here is a list of some of the more prominent and spectacular ones to get you started. You can use this list to make your own bucket list and help you decide where to start with your adventures.
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Why are biosphere reserves in India important?
Biosphere reserves in India are indispensable for preserving biodiversity because they offer protected regions for biological diversity and ecosystems that are endangered by human activity. These protected areas are intended to be symbols of the native ecosystems and habitats found in that specific area.
Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is located in India’s Western Ghats. It was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1986 and covers an area of 5,520 square kilometres across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala.
They’re renowned for their high level of biodiversity, with over 3,300 species of flowering plants, 100 species of mammals, 350 species of birds, 80 species of reptiles, and 39 species of fish. Visit the Nilgiri to witness several threatened species that, include the Nilgiri tahr, lion-tailed macaque, and Nilgiri langur.
The Silent Valley National Park, Mukurthi National Park, Bandipur National Park, Mudumalai National Park, and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary are just a few of the Nilgiri’s breathtaking and diverse wildlife reserves. You won’t want to miss the magnificent sights and experiences these wonderful spots have in store, so have your cameras and binoculars ready. The Nilgiris are also significant for their historical importance as they’re home to several indigenous communities who have lived in the region for generations.
2. Nanda Devi
Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve is located in Uttarakhand and was declared one of the biosphere reserves in India by UNESCO in 2004. They cover an area of 5,860 square kilometres.
The reserve gets its name after the Nanda Devi Peak, the second-highest mountain in India, located inside the reserve. Its biodiversity also includes various species of flora and fauna.
This magnificent biosphere in India, located in the Himalayas, is a must-see for both nature and animal enthusiasts. Keep an eye out for exotic and endangered animals as you explore the Nanda Devi National Park and the Valley of Flowers, including the elusive snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, musk deer, and Himalayan tahr. Don’t miss this chance to see these beautiful animals in their natural surroundings!
Efforts are underway to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of the Nanda Devi with initiatives like ecotourism, sustainable agriculture, and community-based conservation programs.
The Nokrek Biosphere Reserve is located in Meghalaya’s picturesque Garo Hills and awaits your arrival! The Nokrek National Park, which is located in the centre of the reserve and has the largest protected area in the state, gives visitors an opportunity to observe some of the most distinctive plants and animals in the area. Don’t forget to include this hidden gem in your vacation plans!
Nokrek, one of the biosphere reserves in India, is significant for its function in preserving biodiversity, controlling the flow of rivers, and preserving soil. Various kinds of plant life and animals live in this verdant paradise. There are also some rare plants, like pitcher plants, stunning orchids, and colorful rhododendrons. The Asian elephant and clouded leopard are two of the top predators you can find in the animal kingdom. Aside from the big majestic squirrel and the spectacular Indian python, keep a lookout for the acrobatic Hoolock gibbon and the elusive barking deer. Prepare yourself for an unparalleled encounter with nature at Nokrek Biosphere Reserve!
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4. Gulf of Mannar
The Gulf of Mannar is a large shallow natural harbour located between the southeastern tip of the Indian continent and the western coast of Sri Lanka. The Gulf of Mannar is part of the Indian Ocean which is named after the town of Mannar in Sri Lanka.
The Gulf of Mannar is recognised for its rich biodiversity, home to many marine species that include sea turtles, dolphins, whales, a wide variety of fish and crustaceans and pearl fisheries, which have been an important economic activity in the area for centuries. Do you know the Gulf of Manner is home to one of the world’s largest seagrass beds?
The reserve covers a whopping 10,500 square kilometres, including marine and coastal ecosystems.
The Sundarbans are the world’s largest mangrove forest between the deltas of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers in the Bay of Bengal. This biosphere reserve in India is shared by India and Bangladesh.
Do you know the Sundarbans is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
Sunderbans is a nature lover’s paradise. These mangrove forests are blessed with incredible wildlife, including the regal Royal Bengal Tiger, the fierce saltwater crocodile, and the majestic Indian python. Besides these, the Sunderbans is also home to many species of birds and fish, making it a must-visit destination for all nature enthusiasts. Explore the dense mangrove forests and be awed by the stunning flora and fauna that the Sunderbans have to offer.
Numerous communities rely on Sundarbans for fishing, honey production, and other natural resources, which makes it critical for the economy in the area.
Located in the eastern Himalayan range on the border between Nepal and India, Kanchenjunga is the third-highest mountain in the world, with an elevation of 8,586 meters or 28,169 feet.
The mountain is sacred to the local people. Do you know the name Kanchenjunga means “Five Treasures of Snow”, which refers to the five peaks that make up the mountain?
Kanchenjunga is regarded as one of the most difficult mountains to climb in the world, recognised for its challenging and technical climbing routes.
For those who enjoy the outdoors and animals, a visit to the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area is a must. The beautiful snow leopard, the adorable red panda, and the elusive Himalayan black bear are just a few of the endangered animals that call this protected area, which was established in 1997, home. The Kanchenjunga Conservation Area provides a rare opportunity to enjoy the splendor of the Himalayas and its vast biodiversity thanks to its breathtaking vistas and diverse flora and wildlife.
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Measures that mitigate tourism’s negative environmental effects, foster alternative livelihoods, and increase local residents’ access to education and healthcare are all part of efforts to preserve the Kanchenjunga area.
7. Seshachalam Hills
The Seshachalam Hills is a range of hills in Andhra Pradesh recognized worldwide for housing the famous Sri Venkateswara Temple referred to as the Tirumala Hills. The hills, which are close to Tirupati, are a part of the Eastern Ghats Mountain range.
Environmental issues threaten the hills, including deforestation, soil erosion, and illicit mining. Promoting sustainable land use practices, rehabilitating damaged regions, and safeguarding the area’s biodiversity have been the main focuses of efforts to conserve the Hills.
Given that the government has realised the value of preserving the biosphere reserves in India, and fostering sustainable development, these biosphere reserves have a bright future. Numerous species that are distinctive to these reserves and a wide variety of ecosystems are found here.
It will be crucial to ensure that the biosphere reserves in India are properly looked after and safeguarded against threats from invasive species, climate change, and habitat loss. In a bid to prohibit unsustainable activities like mining, logging, and overfishing within biosphere reserves, stringent rules and enforcement mechanisms will be needed.
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