Biosphere reserves

A notable balance between people and nature.

A biosphere reserve is an area declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as having achieved a notable balance between environment and sustainable human development.

UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status recognises places around the world with outstanding natural environments, where communities are committed to working together to live sustainably.

Biosphere reserves are living, learning places. They are used to showcase innovative approaches to conservation and sustainable development and act as a regional centre for scientific research and education on natural and managed ecosystems.

Biosphere reserves consist of terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems and showcase various approaches to sustainable development that are culturally relevant to local communities.

Generally, biosphere reserves will have at least three objectives:

  • conservation – in terms of genetic resources, species and ecosystems
  • sustainable development – economic, environmental, human and cultural
  • learning – research, monitoring, environmental education and training

Find out more about our place – the Noosa Biosphere Reserve.

What happens in a biosphere reserve?

Biosphere reserves are guided by the actions of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, an Intergovernmental Scientific Program that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments.

  • Biosphere reserves are sites that demonstrate innovative approaches to conservation and sustainable development. They share their experience and ideas regionally, nationally and internationally within a world network of biosphere reserves.
  • Biosphere reserves go beyond confined protected areas to where sustainable economic development is made possible through partnerships with local people.
  • Biosphere reserves are about developing quality economies based on local community action and entrepreneurship, sound science, public-private sector partnerships and networking.
  • Biosphere reserves also provide living laboratories to experiment with and showcase various approaches to sustainable development that are culturally relevant to local communities.

Read more about UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program on its website.

Part of a global network

Noosa is part of a global network, connected to 738 sites across 134 countries under the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) and the World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves (WNICBR).

The WNBR is a platform for these sites of excellence to share knowledge and develop approaches to achieving the global goals of the Lima Action Plan 2015-2025 and the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Noosa is one of five UNESCO biosphere reserve sites in Australia, along with:

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