Biosphere reserves in India
"Biosphere Reserve (BR)" is an international designation by UNESCO for representative parts of natural and cultural
landscapes extending over large area of terrestrial or coastal/ marine ecosystems or a combination of both.
The Biosphere Reserve Programme is guided by UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme as India is a signatory to the
landscape approach supported by MAB programme
Biosphere Reserve scheme is being implemented by the government of India since 1986, according to the scheme financial
assistance is given in 90:10 ratio to the North Eastern Region States and three Himalayan states and in the ratio of
60:40 to other states for maintenance, improvement and development of certain items.
There are 18 Biosphere Reserves in the country, 10 of the 18 biosphere reserves in the country have made it to the list
of World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Details of these Biosphere Reserves are given below:
1) Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve
Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, India's first and foremost biosphere reserve is located in the Western Ghats and
Nilgiri Hills, the area encompasses three states named Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Kerela.
The reserve encompasses three ecoregions, the South Western Ghats moist deciduous forests, South Western Ghats montane
rain forests, and South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests.
A Sub-Cluster of the area including Aralam, Mudumalai, Mukurthi, Nagarhole, Bandipur and Silent Valley national parks, as
well as the Wayanad and Sathyamangalam wildlife sanctuaries, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012.
The Biosphere has largest population of two endangered species- lion-tailed macaque and nilgiri tahr.
2) Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve
The Sundarbans is located in the delta region of Padma, Meghna and Brahmaputra river basins on the coastal region of the
Bay of Bengal comprising West Bengal, India and Bangladesh.
The Sundarbans has largest coastal mangrove forest in the workd, with an area of about 10,000 km2, out of which 60% is
located in Bangladesh and 40% in India.
The Sundarbans and Sundarbans National Park have been listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List separately.
The Sundarbans also have flora like sundari, gewa, goran and keora in abundance and prominently throughout the area, numerous wildlife species, birds and reptiles, including Bengal tiger, chital, crocodile, snakes are also found in the area.
3) Nanda Devi National Park & Biosphere Reserve
The Nanda Devi National Park or Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve is a national park situated around the peak of Nanda Devi in the state of Uttarakhand, India.
Nanda Devi National Park which also contains the Nanda Devi Sanctuary was inscribed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988.
Himalayan musk deer, mainland serow, Himalayan tahr, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, brown bear and Langurs are found in the area, where Fir, birch, rhododendron, and juniper are the main flora.
4) Gulf of Mannar
Gulf of Mannar, home to one of the world's richest concentrations of marine species lies between the southeastern tip of (Tamilnadu) India and the west coast of Sri Lanka, in the Coromandel Coast region.
The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve covers an area of 10,500 square km of ocean, 21 islands and the adjoining coastline.
5) Nokrek Biosphere Reserve
The Nokrek Biosphere Reserve is located on the highest peak(Nokrek) of the Garo hills of Tura Range in Meghalaya. The biosphere reserve contains major rivers and streams that form a perennial catchment system.
90% of the Nokrek Biosphere Reserve is covered by evergreen forest, while some patches of bamboo forest can also be found in the lower altitudes.
Nokrek has a remnant population of the Red panda, along with Asian elephants and important birds.
6) Manas Biosphere Reserve
Manas Wildlife Sanctuary located in the state of Assam (India), is a a national park, UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a Project Tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve.
Rare and endangered endemic wildlife of the area includes, Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, golden langur and pygmy hog, apart from them the park is also popular for wild water buffalo, Asiatic Elephant, Indian rhinoceros, Tiger etc and more than 450 species of birds
7) Dihang-Dibang Biosphere Reserve
Dihang-Dibang is a biosphere Reserve located in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, it also ecompasses Mouling National Park and the Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary.
Rare mammals such as Mishmi takin, red goral, red panda, Asiatic black bear, occasional tiger and Gongshan muntjac along with rare birds like Sclater's monal and Blyth's tragopan are found in the region.
8) Dibru-Saikhowa Biosphere Reserve
Dibru-Saikhowa Biosphere Reserve or Dibru-Saikhowa National Park is located in Assam, India. The park is bounded by the Brahmaputra and Lohit rivers in the north and Dibru river in the south.
36 mammal species have been recorded, of which 12 are listed in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, Gangetic dolphin, Asian elephant, wild boar, Sambar deer, hog deer, barking deer, Asiatic water buffalo etc.
9) Panna Biosphere Reserve
Panna Biosphere Reserve is located in Panna and Chhatarpur districts of Madhya Pradesh in India. Panna National Park was declared as one of the Tiger reserves of India in 1994/95 and placed under the protection of Project Tiger.
Among the animals found here are the tiger, leopard, chital, chinkara, nilgai, sambhar and sloth bear.
10) Kachchh Biosphere Reserve (KBR)
Kachchh Biosphere Reserve (KBR) located in Gujarat, consists of two major ecosystems called Great Rann of Kachchh (GRK) and Little Rann of Kachchh (LRK) covering area of 12,454 square km.
This is one of the hottest areas of India – with summer temperatures averaging and peaking at 49.5 °C. Winter temperatures reduce dramatically and can go below 0 °C (32 °F).
11) Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve
Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve is located in the Satpura Range of Madhya Pradesh state in central India. It also consists of three wildlife conservation units: Bori Sanctuary, Pachmarhi Sanctuary and Satpura National Park.
The forests are dominated by sal, wild mango, silver fern, jamun and arjun. Large mammal species found in the area includes tigers, leopard, wild boar, sambar deer etc, apart from them chinkara, nilgai, wild dogs, the Indian wolf, Indian giant squirrels, and flying squirrels are also found there.
12) Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve
The Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve is located in the state of of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, India. The biosphere lies in the Bilaspur district in Chhattisgarh and Anuppur and Dindori districts of Madhya Pradesh.
The area is home to tigers, panthers, bears etc along with 13 species of snakes and lizards, along with several species of frogs.
13) Simlipal Biosphere Reserve
Simlipal National Park is a national park and a tiger reserve in the Mayurbhanj district in the Indian state of Odisha.
It is part of the Similipal-Kuldiha-Hadgarh Elephant Reserve popularly known as Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve, which includes three protected areas — Similipal Tiger Reserve, Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary and Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary.
Simlipal is famous for royal Bengal tigers, wild elephants, gaurs (Indian bison), chausingha as well as an orchidarium.
14) Seshachalam Biosphere Reserve
The Seshachalam Hills are hilly ranges part of the Eastern Ghats in southern Andhra Pradesh state.
These hill ranges are rich in plant diversity and home to many endangered animals. The vegetation is a unique mix of both dry and moist deciduous type.
The Biosphere Reserve have red sander logs, which have great demand in the international market.
The presence of Leopard, Hyena, Wild Dog, Golden Jackal, Indian Fox, Jungle Cat, Sloth Bear are also felt in the area.
15) Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve
The Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve is located in two states Kerala and Tamil Nadu of India. It is home to rare animals include the tiger, Asian Elephant, and Nilgiri Tahr.
It is home to the Kanikaran tribe, one of the oldest surviving ancient tribes in the world. The reserve is named after Agastya Mala peak that rises up to almost 1868 metres above sea level, in Thiruvananthapuram,Kerala....
16) Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve
Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve encompasses a large part (some 85%) of the island of Great Nicobar, the largest of the Nicobar Islands in the Indian Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The reserve is home to many species of plants and animals, often endemic to the Andaman and Nicobars biogeographic region. Species of fauna in the reserve include: Nicobar scrubfowl (Mmegapode bird), the edible-nest swiftle, the Nicobar long-tailed macaque, saltwater crocodile, giant leatherback sea turtle, Malayan box turtle, Nicobar tree shrew, reticulated python and the giant robber crab.
17) Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve
Khangchendzonga National Park also Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve is a National Park and a Biosphere reserve located in Sikkim, India. In July 2016, the reserve became the first "Mixed Heritage" site of India.
The flora of the area consists of oaks, fir, birch, maple, willow etc, while Fauna includes musk deer, snow leopard, Himalayan tahr, wild dog, sloth bear, civet, Himalayan black bear, red panda, Tibetan wild ass, Himalayan blue sheep, serow, goral and takin, as well as reptiles including rat snake and Russell's viper.
18) Cold Desert biosphere reserve
Cold Desert biosphere reserve is located in western Himalayas region, within Himachal Pradesh state of India. The biosphere reserve includes, Pin Valley National Park, Chandratal, Sarchu and Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary.
The area forms a natural habitat for a number of endangered animals including the snow leopard and Siberian ibex.
What is the difference between National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Biosphere Reserves
In general, conservation areas in India are designated at three levels; Sanctuaries, National Parks and Biosphere Reserves, which differ from each other in their design, management, purpose and size.
Sanctuaries are relatively smaller in size and are normally species-oriented. They focus on the conservation of a particular species of plant or animal.
National Parks have more or less the same size as Sanctuaries, but focus on the conservation of the habitat of one or two species.
Biosphere Reserves are much larger in size and encompass a whole ecosystem. They are not specifically oriented to one or more species, but to the whole ecosystem. They may also overlap other protected areas.