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Biosphere Reserve CBSE NCERT Class 12 Biology


Biosphere Reserve CBSE NCERT Class 12 Biology

In this Biology note, we will learn Biosphere Reserve, its Characteristics and List of Biosphere Reserve of India from the unit – 10 and chapter -15 of Biology Class 12

Biosphere is the region of the earth where life occurs. Land, water and air are different parts of the biosphere that sustain life on earth. A biosphere reserve is a large area on the earth where all sort of life exists and which is conserved for unusual scientific and natural interest. It is a tag given by UNESCO in order to protect these sites. Conservation of biodiversity is essential for the environment. Conservation doesn’t mean preservation, conservation means the utilization of natural resources in such a way that they are not allowed to destroy. The maintenance of species and ecosystems is a basis for sustainable development. Conservation of biodiversity needs human efforts so that the wildlife and plants are protected from getting extinct. Conservation also requires wise management of wildlife, plants and their environment.



Biosphere reserves promote management, research and education in ecosystem conservation. Thus, Biosphere reserves help in ‘sustainable use of natural resources’.Biosphere Reserves are supposed to be the representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes which extend over a large area of terrestrial or coastal/marine ecosystems or either the combination of both

The entire flora and fauna in the biosphere reserves are preserved in its natural habitat.  It also helps in the maintenance of biodiversity culture. limited economic activities are permitted in the biosphere reserves, like sand and stone mining. These reserves help to promote research in ecological conservation and environmental preservation.

Biosphere reserves are a multipurpose protected area which is developed to:

1) Conserve biodiversity and integrity of plants, animals and microorganisms.

2) To educate, to train and to create awareness about environmental aspects and eco-friendly living.

Characteristics of Biosphere Reserve

1. The areas that cover a larger area of land which may cover multiple National Parks, Sanctuaries and reserves as well.

2. These areas are meant for the conservation of biodiversity of a specific area.

3. There are three zones under biodiversity reserves: core, buffer &marginal/ transition. In the core zone, no human activity is allowed. It is a legally protected ecosystem. In the Buffer zone, limited human activity is permitted. While in transition or marginal zone several human activities are allowed. Like, human settlements, forestry, agriculture, recreation etc.


4. Biosphere Reserves are internationally recognized within the framework of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme and nominated by national governments.

5. The respective State governments get financial assistance from The Ministry of Environment and Forest in order to conserve the landscape, biological diversity and cultural heritage.

Three inter-related zones of the Biosphere Reserve

Core Zone

Core zone contains suitable habitat for numerous plant and animal species, including predators and may contain centres of endemism (it is the ecological state of a species making it unique to a defined geographic location, like an island, nation, country or other defined zone, or habitat type). Core areas conserve the wild relatives of economic species and also represent important genetic reservoirs having an exceptional scientific interest. A core zone is a National Park or Sanctuary/protected/regulated mostly under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. It is prevented from human activities.

Buffer Zone

The buffer zone surrounds the core zone, human activities are managed in this area in such ways that help in the protection of the core zone in its natural condition. These uses and activities include restoration, demonstration sites for enhancing value addition to the resources, limited recreation, tourism, fishing, grazing, etc; which are permitted to reduce its effect on the core zone. Research and educational activities are encouraged. Human activities, if natural within the biosphere reserve, is likely to continue if they do not adversely affect the ecological diversity.

Transition Zone

The transition zone is the outermost part of a biosphere reserve. This is usually not an enclosed zone but it is a zone of cooperation where conservation knowledge and management skills are applied. In this area, the resources are managed in harmony with the purpose of the biosphere reserve. This includes settlements, croplands, managed forests and area for intensive recreation and other economic uses characteristics of the region.

Criteria for designation of Biosphere Reserve

  • The site for a biosphere reserve must contain an effectively protected and marginally disturbed area valuing nature conservation.
  • The area should be a bio-geographical unit which is large enough to sustain viable populations comprising all trophic levels in the ecosystem.
  • The biosphere reserve must have a management authority to ensure the involvement/cooperation of local communities to bring a variety of knowledge and experiences. Thus, a link between biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development is made.
  • The area should have a potential for preservation of traditional tribal or rural modes of living for harmonious use of the environment.

The UNESCO has introduced the designation ‘Biosphere Reserve’ for natural areas thus minimizing conflict between development and conservation. Biosphere Reserves are nominated by the national government, only when a minimal set of criteria are satisfied.The areas should adhere to the minimal set of conditions for getting involved in the world network of Biosphere reserves under the Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme of UNESCO. Globally 621 Biosphere Reserves from 117 countries are included in the network so far.

Tripartite functions of Biosphere Reserves (Conservation, Development and logistic support)

  • To conserve the diversity and integrity of various plants and animals within natural ecosystems.
  • To protect the genetic diversity of species on which the evolution depends.
  • For the sustainable use of natural resources through the most appropriate technology. This would help in the improvement of the economic well-being of the local people.
  • It provides areas for multi-faceted research and monitoring.
  • It gives facilities for education and training.



India’s largest biosphere reserve is Gulf of Mannar. The Gulf of Mannar is the wide area of the coastal sea lying between the southern tip of India, the southeastern coast of Tamil Nadu state, and the north-west coast of Sri Lanka. The first established biosphere reserve is Nilgiri. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is an International Biosphere Reserve located in the Western Ghats and Nilgiri Hills ranges of South India. The smallest biosphere reserve is Panna located in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh.

Read Wildlife Sanctuaries

Read another Biology Class 12 note on a biodiversity hotspot

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December 4, 2019

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