Recognize 727 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves for biodiversity COP15

Alicia D. Barraclough, Maureen G. Reed, Inger Elisabeth Mâren, Martin F. Price, Andrés Moreira-Muñoz, Kaera Coetzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Letter to the Editor:
The Biosphere Reserves set up by UNESCO, the United Nations scientific and cultural organization, safeguard biodiversity through a network of 727 sites in 131 countries. We argue that these reserves should be included alongside other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs; G. G. Gurney et al. Nature 595, 646–649; 2021) in the Convention on Biological Diversity’s agreement, due to be negotiated at the COP15 meeting in Kunming, China.

UNESCO first introduced Biosphere Reserves in 1971 as an intergovernmental and interdisciplinary programme to improve relationships between people and their environment. Today’s network includes territories co-managed and sustainably developed by local and Indigenous communities. Their total area of almost 7 million square kilometres is 70% of that of the United States so could contribute around 4.5% to the convention’s area-based targets. Despite this potential, the reserves are not yet fully recognized in the protected area determined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or in OECM categories (see and

Biosphere Reserves already embody the holistic and human-rights-based approaches advocated for the convention’s post-2020 agreement. Integrating them into global biodiversity frameworks would boost resources for monitoring and management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-257
Issue number7880
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2021


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