1) What is a biosphere reserve?
A biosphere reserve is a model area for sustainable development. The BIOSPHERE refers to everything living on Earth and their environment. It is about the relationship between human and the environment.
UNESCO, United Nations Education, Science, and Cultural Organization, selects areas worldwide that demonstrate good initiatives of sustainable development. A biosphere reserve shall serve as a model area where efforts are directed to facilitate nature conservation, social development and development of scientific research and education. Local cooperation is the foundation. A biosphere reserve is formed based on local conditions. Therefore, every biosphere reserve is unique!
2) What are the functions of biosphere reserves?
Each biosphere reserve is intended to fulfil three basic functions, which are complementary and mutually reinforcing:
A conservation function - to contribute to conservations of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation
A development function - to foster economic and human development which is socio-cultural and ecologically sustainable
A logistic function - to provide support for research, monitoring, education and information exchange related to local, national and global issues of conservation and development.
3) Are there any biosphere reserves somewhere else?
There are 580 biosphere reserves in 114 countries (2011). More than 260 biosphere reserves are in Europe and North America. There are four biosphere reserves in Sweden - Kristianstads Vattenrike, Lake Vänern Archipelago and Mount Kinnekulle, Blekinge Archipelago and River Landscape of Lower Dalälven. Eastern slopes of Lake Vättern is a biosphere candidate, which mean that it has great potential to become a biosphere reserve. The biosphere candidate is working for a UNESCO-nomination.
4) Is it a long-term commitment?
Yes, the work within a biosphere reserve is considered to be long-term. It is a continuous process which is coordinated by a biosphere office. The purpose of the biosphere reserve needs time to mature in order to become a natural part of activities conducted by local industries, municipalities, and inhabitants. This will allow for the development of good collaborations.
5) Are people allowed to live in a biosphere reserve?
According to the UNESCO criteria for biosphere reserves, there MUST live people in the area. The criterion "sustainable development" is based on local participation and local support. The people living in the area are therefore essential to biosphere reserves.
6) How is a biosphere reserve financed?
The activities in a biosphere reserve are often in project form. There are different ways to finance different efforts and projects in the biosphere reserve. In Sweden the National Environmental Protection Agency is financially supporting biosphere candidates and biosphere reserves as well as involved municipalities.
7) What are the advantages of a biosphere reserve?
People who are active in a biosphere reserve benefits in different ways. It depends on trade, interest and what someone engages in on his or her spare time. The advantages of a biosphere reserve are therefore showing in different ways. Even the society as a whole benefits from a biosphere reserve since efforts are directed towards sustainable development. A biosphere reserve also is a way to market an area. In Europe, biosphere reserves are considered to be attractive areas to live in and to visit. A special form of tourism has developed in Austria and in Germany.
Due to its status, a biosphere reserve may have increased the possibilities to attract funding for research, demonstration projects and environmental monitoring. The model area for sustainable development tests new strategies to merge social development and nature conservation together with local participation.
8) Does a biosphere reserve have any effect on ownership, usage and/or cultivation of land?
A biosphere reserve does not apply any new restrictions. All possible restrictions should be local initiatives and based on agreements between for example land owner and authority. Existing restrictions, such as regulations in nature reserves and national parks, are still applied. A biosphere reserve does not mean additional legislature. A biosphere reserve does not imply any limitations of the right of common access. On the contrary, the access to nature can be increased.
9) What makes an area suitable to become a biosphere reserve?
Globally, biosphere reserves are distinguished for the very high landscape values, in regards to both social history and biology. These values are protected and used at the same time. Biosphere reserves are areas where the landscape values are considered to be potential assets for the local people and local societies. When an area is demonstrating good examples, where use and preservation coexists, it may become a biosphere reserve.
10) How does an area become a biosphere reserve?
Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments and should be well accepted on regional and local levels. If the area is fulfilling the requirements, UNESCO may give the area biosphere reserve status.
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