Sundarban Biosphere Reserve
What is a Biosphere?
A biosphere is referred to the areas of coastal or land ecosystems that provides a way for reconciliation of the biodiversity which is to be conserved and used in a sustainable manner. The inception of the concept traces back to the late 1960s during the Biosphere Conference organized by UNESCO. This conference also brought the Man and Biosphere (MAB) project to life.
The functions of biospheres are to conserve the landscapes, ecosystems and genetic variations and to help in the sustained growth of social, economic and cultural status of human being. It also provides useful help when it comes to research, educational and informative studies and also for monitoring localized as well as worldwide development.
There are several biospheres that exist in India. To be more specific, the Government of India has announced 18 Biosphere Reserves of India, protecting the larger areas of natural habitat (National Park or Animal Sanctuary), and include one or more National Parks or preserves, coupled with the buffer zones which stay open to economic uses. In these regions, the flora and fauna are protected along with the human inhabitants and communities who reside these regions. Apart from the Sundarban, The Nilgiri Biospheres and Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve located in Tamil Nadu, Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve in Uttarakhand, the Simlipal Biosphere Reserve in Orissa, the Nokrek Biosphere Reserve in Meghalaya, the Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand are some of the popular ones. All of them are assets to the world in terms of natural resources but the Sundarban National Park has a league of its own.
Constitution of Sundarban Biosphere Reserve
As part of the Man and Biosphere Program (MAB), the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India adopted the National MAB program. Through this program, it declared the entire 9630 sq. km. of Sundarban as the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve in the year 1989. The declaration was made through a notification that outlined the establishment of formal mechanism for integrating and coordinating varying conservation activities of conservation, research and training so as to create harmony between the man and the environment. The unique eco systems of Sundarban, has thus been declared as a World Heritage site in the year 1989. In November 2001, in the global network of Biosphere Reserves, Sundarban Biosphere Reserve got included and this happened to be the second Biosphere Reserve from India, other than Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.
The Objectives of Sundarban Biosphere Reserve-
- Restoration of the unique mangrove ecosystem of Sundarbans and prevention of its biodiversity.
- Sustainable economic development, as well as the development of the social activities of the population inhabiting the Reserve.
- Providing research, education and monitoring, to accelerate the achievements made.
According to guidelines laid down for biospheres, Sundarban has been divided into three parts:
(1) The core zone is of 1700 sq km. which lies in the eastern part at the border region, separated from Bangladesh by the Matla river. This is strictly meant for conservation of nature and made free from all disturbances.
(2) The buffer zone which includes mangrove forests and reserved forest areas around the core regions.
(3) The transition zone consists of non-forest regions along with agricultural areas that have been reclaimed and inhabited by the locals.