Boasting About Biosphere Reserves
There are several hundred Biosphere Reserves scattered across our planet in almost all types of climates and ecosystems. But what exactly is a Biosphere Reserve, and why are they so important to us?
Local Solutions to Global Challenges
First of all, let’s get the basic facts down. UNESCO defines Biosphere Reserves as learning places for sustainable development. They often incorporate and preserve large areas of unique ecosystems and work side by side with local businesses and settlements. These are designated areas where different approaches to finding a balance between industry and the environment are tested.
Through the projects run at these sites, scientists and researchers can find answers to questions such as: Can tourism and wildlife habitats co-exist? Can cash-crop agriculture by local communities still grow side by side with biodiverse native flora? The successes achieved in these sites can then inform and inspire similar initiatives nationally or even worldwide. For a future where humankind can live harmoniously with nature, Biosphere Reserves are vitally important ecological Petri dishes.
In the Power of the People
So who’s in charge of Biosphere Reserves? They often come under the jurisdiction of the countries and states where they are located. But the reserves are also designated under the intergovernmental MAB Programme (Man and the Biosphere Programme). This programme is in turn headed up by the Director-General of UNESCO who also sits on the MAB International Coordinating Council.
In spite of this, it is really the involvement of local communities which is pivotal to each project’s success. Without the support and participation of people, no initiative would even be able to get off the ground. As per the fundamental principle of sustainability, Biosphere Reserve projects are specifically designed to simultaneously benefit all three Ps: people, profits and planet, making sure they do good for all three.
Our Top Picks in Central America
Today we have approximately 701 Biosphere Reserves worldwide, across 124 countries. Some really spectacular ones can be found in Central America. The region has several reserves essential for thriving ecosystems and a real treat for the senses to visit. These reserves are often applauded for creating a sustainable relationship between humans and nature and make for definite hotspots for explorers like you.
One of the best reserves in this region is the Huatulco National Park and Biosphere Reserve in Mexico. It is located in the physiographic province of the Sierra Madre del Sur, which is famous for its rocky cliffs and bays. The park and reserve preserves large areas of marine territory and lowland jungle, as well as the most important coral communities of the Mexican Pacific. Some of its included bays are only accessible by boat, with no human constructions of any kind in sight. But if you travel there by boat, you can enjoy dreamy beaches with white sand and water in all shades of blue and green.
The same goes for La Amistad Biosphere Reserve in Bocas del Toro in Panama. It includes a variety of different habitats that range from mountain forests to mangrove jungles and coral reefs. With good reason, Bocas del Toro is known as an extraordinary location for exotic flora and fauna, beckoning birdwatchers and wildlife photographers alike. Snorkellers and divers are also drawn here to uncover a mesmerising underwater world.
Piece of Paradise in the Caribbean
The reserves in the Caribbean are also famous for being astonishingly beautiful and for protecting important natural resources and habitats. The Caribbean has several reserves located in St Kitts, Haiti, Cuba, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic.
One of the more spectacular reserves in the Caribbean is the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve at the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, in the southwestern Caribbean. This is a vast reserve that encompasses both diverse marine and birdlife as well as extensive coral reefs. As a marine Biosphere Reserve, it covers approximately 10% of the Caribbean Sea, including three islands surrounded by coastal mangroves and swamps as well as highly productive coral reef ecosystems. It’s a snorkeller’s paradise.
These important and beautiful Biosphere Reserves offer great experiences for the intrepid traveller. The ones we’ve mentioned above can each be visited on an expedition cruise with us. Together, we’ll discover extraordinary wildlife, incredible nature and learn first-hand about the importance of preserving them.