Biospheres are places where nature and culture connect. They are internationally recognised for their biological diversity yet also actively managed to promote a balanced relationship between people and nature. A Biosphere is a special designation awarded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) but managed in partnership by communities, NGOs and local and national governments. The Biosphere designation brings no new regulations; its aims are achieved by people working together. There is a global network of 669 Biospheres in 120 countries.
Biospheres contain three different zones, which are managed in different ways:
- The core zone comprises a protected ecosystem which is managed for the conservation of landscapes and biological diversity.
- The buffer zone surrounds or adjoins the core zone. Scientific research, monitoring, training, education and other environmentally friendly activities are encouraged within the buffer zone.
- The transition zone is the outer part of the Biosphere. Sustainable social and economic development is strongly promoted within this area.
All Biospheres have three goals:
- Conservation: promoting the protection of landscapes, habitats, wildlife and cultural values
- Learning: supporting education and research, for a better understanding of nature and global issues
- Development: fostering a sustainable economy and society for people living and working in the area