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What is a Biosphere Reserve? 

A Biosphere Reserve is an area where locals work with biodiversity and its sustainable use. They are designated by UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation).


Biosphere reserves are ‘areas of land and marine ecosystems or a combination, which are internationally recognised within the framework of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme.

They are nominated by national governments and must fulfil three aims:

  • Conservation protecting, wildlife, habitats and the environment.

  • Development – encouraging a sustainable economy and community;

  • Education – supporting research, monitoring, and building global networks to share and learn.


Biosphere Reserves are “sites of excellence to foster harmonious integration of people and nature for sustainable development through participation, knowledge, well-being, cultural values and society’s ability to cope with change, thus contributing to the Millennium Development Goals”.

UNESCO video explaining Biospheres

Biosphere reserves are designed to deal with one of the most important questions the World faces today:

How can we reconcile conservation of biodiversity and biological resources with their sustainable use?

UNESCO’s Biospheres inspire communities to work together in creating a future we can all be proud of, connecting people with nature and cultural heritage, while strengthening local economies.

Biodiversity and

sustainable development

Osprey, Dyfi Biosphere, Wales
Red kite, Dyfi Biosphere, Wales
River Dyfi winter, Dyfi Biosphere, Wales
horse logging, Dyfi Biosphere, Wales
Windfarm, Dyfi Biosphere, Wales

What is within a Biosphere?

Each biosphere reserve should contain three elements:

  • one or more core areas, which are  protected sites for conserving biological diversity, monitoring ecosystems, and doing research and educational use.

  • a clearly identified buffer zone, which surrounds or adjoins the core areas, and is used for activities compatible with sound ecological practices, including environmental education, recreation, ecotourism, and applied and basic research

  • a flexible transition area, or area of co-operation, which may contain a variety of agricultural activities, settlements and other uses and in which local communities, management agencies, scientists, non-governmental organizations, cultural groups, economic interests and other stakeholders work together to manage and sustainably develop the area’s resources.

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