UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme today added 20 new sites, in 21 countries to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, which now numbers 727 biosphere reserves in 131 countries, including 22 transboundary sites. UNESCO Biosphere reserves now cover more than 5% of the Earth’s landmass, in which biodiversity conservation, environmental education, research and sustainable development are combined.
The International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB-ICC) meeting in Abuja from 13 to 17 September (for the first time on the African continent) approved these additions along with the extension or re-zoning of two existing biosphere reserves. The MAB programme also celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2021.
Lesotho, Libya and Saudi Arabia join the MAB Network this year with the designation of their first sites: Matšeng Biosphere Reserve, Ashaafean Biosphere Reserve, and Juzur Farasan Biosphere Reserve, respectively. In Europe, the Five-country Biosphere Reserve Mura-Drava-Danube becomes the first MAB site to be co-managed by as many countries (Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia).