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UNESCO designates 11 new biosphere reserves

UNESCO has approved the designation of 11 new biosphere reserves in 11 countries, including Belgium and The Gambia for the first time, and two transboundary biosphere reserves.

The other new biosphere reserves are in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Mongolia, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Slovenia and Spain. With these new biosphere reserves, covering a total area of 37,400 km², equivalent to the size of the Netherlands, the World Network of Biosphere Reserves now totals 759 sites in 136 countries.

These additions were decided at the 36th session of the International Coordinating Council, the governing body of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme, which is composed of 34 representatives of UNESCO Member States. The Council met in Agadir, Morocco, from 2 to 5 July, following the UNESCO Conference on Soils.

Biosphere reserves are an integral part of UNESCO’s mandate as the United Nations scientific organisation. Each biosphere reserve promotes innovative local solutions for sustainable development, protects biodiversity and addresses climate change. They also support local and indigenous communities through practices such as agro-ecology, water management and green income generation.

Biosphere reserves are helping to meet the targets set by states when they adopted the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework in December 2022, which include designating 30% of the Earth’s land and marine surface as protected areas and restoring 30% of the planet’s degraded ecosystems by 2030.

The new Biosphere Reserves:

  • Kempen-Broek Transboundary Biosphere Reserve (Belgium & The Netherlands)
  • Darién Norte Chocoano Biosphere Reserve (Columbia)
  • Madre de las Aguas Biosphere Reserve (Dominican Republic)
  • Niumi Biosphere Reserve (The Gambia)
  • Colli Euganei Biosphere Reserve (Italiy)
  • Julian Alps Transboundary Biosphere Reserve (Italy & Slovenia)
  • Khar Us Lake Biosphere Reserve (Mongolia)
  • yApayaos Biosphere Reserve (Philippines)
  • Changnyeong Biosphere Reserve (Republic of Korea)
  • Val d’Aran Biosphere Reserve (Spain)
  • Irati Biosphere Reserve (Spain)