Biosphere reserves are intended to be model regions for researching and demonstrating successful approaches to protection and sustainable development at a regional level. The concept of biosphere reserves relates to one of the most important questions facing the world today: how can we strike a balance between protecting biological diversity, striving for economic and social development and preserving cultural values?

To this effect, UNESCO initiated the programme “Man and Biosphere” (MAB) in the early 1970s. Its objective is to design new models for carefully managing habitats. This MAB concept has been implemented in practice in the UNESCO biosphere reserves. MAB is directed towards the guiding principle of sustainable environmentally friendly development.

Biosphere reserves are only rarely “original” biotopes – much more frequently, they are cultural landscapes which have been formed and reshaped over centuries of human usage

The world network of biosphere reserves currently includes 714 biosphere reserves in 117 countries worldwide. Two of these are located in Switzerland.

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