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International Biosphere Reserves

Biosphere reserves are internationally recognized terrestrial and coastal or marine areas where management seeks to achieve sustainable use of natural resources while ensuring conservation of the biological diversity of the areas. The first biosphere reserves were designated in 1976 as part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB). Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments for inclusion in the world network of biosphere reserves. Each nation's sites remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the nominating country.

Forty-seven biosphere reserves are recognized in the United States, with 23 involving 30 units of the national park system. For example, Channel Islands National Park was designated an International Biosphere Reserve in recognition of its genetic diversity and importance as an environmental baseline for research and monitoring. For a list of units of the U.S. National Park Service and associated biosphere reserves see Table 1 in the Fall/Winter 2001 issue of Park Science.

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Last Updated: June 08, 2011