Definition: Biosphere reserves are
created world over under UNESCO's Man and Biosphere (MAB)
program and can be defined as areas of terrestrial and coastal
marine systems which are nationally/ internationally recognised
and designed to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship
between people and nature.
Main Goals of Biosphere Reserve:
1.) Conservation of natural and cultural diversity.
2.) Management and approaches to sustainable development
3.) Research, monitoring, education and training
Objectives and guidelines:
Biosphere reserves are multi-purpose protected areas with
an aim to preserve the genetic diversity of representative
ecosystems. The major objectives of biosphere reserves are:
1.) To conserve diversity and integrity of plants, animals
2.) To promote research on ecological conservation and other
3.) To provide facilities for education, awareness and training
for effective participation of the people living around the
List of National Biosphere Reserves in
- Nilgiri (Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala): A global Biosphere
- Nanda Devi (Uttaranchal)
- Nokrek (Meghalaya)
- Manas (Assam)
- Dibru - Saikhowa (Assam).
- Dihang - Dibang (Arunachal Pradesh)
- Khangchendzonga (Sikkim)
- Sundarban (West Bengal): A global Biosphere Reserve
- Simlipal (Orissa)
- Pachmari (MP)
- Gulf of Mannar (Tamil Nadu): A Global Biosphere Reserve
- The Great Nicobar
Characteristic Features of Sundarbans
The site contains the largest tiger population in a single
reserve in India with an estimated census figure of 274 individuals
(249 in STR + 25 in 24 pgs (S)) in the 2004. The area also
forms a nursery for the post larval stages of tiger prawn
and other shellfish. The region produces about 60 tonnes of
honey every year. A variety of endangered species occur in
the area including the fishing cat, estuarine crocodile, olive
ridley turtle, river terrapin and monitor lizards, among others.
The Sundarbans is the only mangrove area in India which is
a tiger habitat and in the past provided habitats for several
other animals such as Javan rhinoceros, swamp deer, water
buffalo and gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) which are
no longer found in the region.
Structure of the Reserve:
The biosphere reserve has the following structure:
Core zone: This zone covers approximately
an area of 1,700 sq km of RF lying in the eastern portion
of Sundarbans adjoining the Bangladesh border and is bounded
by matla river in the west and Bay of Bengal in the south.
This region is well covered with compact block of primitive
mangrove forests remain unaltered for centuries. Much of the
Tiger Reserve and 1,330 sq km of the Sundarbans National Park
are also included in this area.
Buffer Zone: This comprises majority
of mangrove areas including reserved forest areas adjoining
and the surrounding the above core zone. This portion also
includes the buffer areas of the Tiger Reserve, Sajnekhali
Wild Life Sanctuary and compact RF blocks lying between Matla
and Thakuran under 24 parganas Forest Division.
Transition Zone: This covers the rest
of the Biosphere areas and contains mangrove pockets of mostly
non- forest areas and reclaimed areas with agricultural activities.
Administrative boundary of the Sundarban is spread over two
districts i.e. North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas, covering
South 24 Parganas- Sagar, Namkhana, Kakdwip, Patharpratima,
Kultali, Mathurapur-I, II, Jaynagar- I, II, Canning-I, II,
Basanti, Gosaba, North 24 Parganas- Hingalganj, Hasnabad,
Haroa, Sandeshkhali-I,II, Minakhan.
Administration and Management Activities:
Director, Sundarban Biosphere Reserve and Chief Conservator
of Forests (South) is the Head of Sundarban Biosphere Reserve.
The entire region is distributed between Sundarban Tiger Reserve,
under Field Director, and 24 Parganas South Forest Division,
under DFO/ South 24 Pargana Forest Division. Geographically,
STR and 24 Pgs South Divn are separated by the river Matla.
Office of the Director, SBR is located at Bikash Bhawan, Salt
Lake, Kolkata-700091. FD/STR has his office at Canning and
DFO/ South 24 Pgs functions from Alipore, New Admin. Bldg,
Kolkata. Joint Director, SBR is also located at Bikash Bhawan,
Salt Lake. CCF (South) has also territorial jurisdiction over
the districts of South and North 24 Parganas, Nadia and Murshidabad
and is the Controlling Officer for FD/STR and Jt. Dir/SBR.
FD/STR is assisted by one Dy FD (DCF) and one Asst FD (ACF).
DFO/South 24 Pgs is assisted by two Asst DFOs.
The Director of the Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve is assisted
by a multi-disciplinary team of technical experts, specialising
in soil science, agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry,
wildlife management and conservation, archaeology, marine
biology, sociology and ecology.
A Deputy Director for socio-economic aspects, a Deputy Director
for fisheries and a Deputy Director for tourism assist the
Director. There are eight monitoring units, each unit being
headed by a forest range officer, agriculture officer, fishing
officer or reserve assistant.
The Management Council has 12 members, with the Chief Secretary
of West Bengal acting as the Chairperson. There is a research
and monitoring committee consisting of eight members. The
biosphere protection and management committee has 11 members
with Principal Chief Conservator and Ex-officio Secretary,
Forest Department as the chairperson.
The biosphere reserve is presently affected by wood pilferage
and wildlife poaching in areas outside the tiger reserve.
Fishing is allowed in the buffer zone, but over-exploitation
of many species has caused the depletion of stocks. Catches
of tiger prawn seeds enmasse has also destroyed many other
fish seeds that are inadvertently caught and discarded. Unplanned
diversion of tidal creeks for reclamation or aquaculture has
also posed a problem.