oa South African Journal of Science - The scientific value of UNESCO biosphere reserves

Volume 116 Number 1-2
  • ISSN : 0038-2353
  • E-ISSN: 1996-7489



The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched its Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme in 1971, with its ‘biosphere reserve’ concept instituted 5 years thereafter. The aim of the MAB Programme is to improve the relationship between people and their natural environment, and provides an explicitly people-centred conservation approach that emphasises the synergies and trade-offs between environmental ‘preservation’ and environmental ‘use’. These synergies, i.e. linking people and nature in pursuit of development goals, are being executed in landscapes designated as biosphere reserves. Sites are listed in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) and organised into regional networks in order to improve networking and collaboration. South Africa is a member of AfriMAB (regional MAB network for sub-Saharan Africa) and is the current coordinator of the southern Africa sub-regional network.

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