• It is one of the world's highest ecosystems, with elevations of 1, 220 metres above sea level.
• It encompasses a wide range of ecolines, from subtropical to arctic (tundra), as well as natural forests in various biomes, all of which support a huge diversity of forest types and habitats.
• It has a large transboundary Wildlife Protected Area at its heart.
• Its southern and central landscape, which account for 86 percent of its total area, is located in the Greater Himalayas.
• Trans-Himalayan features characterize the northern part of the country, which accounts for 14% of the total area.
• Khangchendzonga National Park's core zone was already designated a World Heritage Site in 2016 under the "mixed" category (first from India in this category).
• Many of the biosphere reserve's mountains, peaks, lakes, caves, rocks, Stupas (shrines), and hot springs serve as pilgrimage sites.
• The biosphere reserve's core zone alone has over 150 glaciers and 73 glacial lakes, the most famous of which is the 26-kilometer-long Zemu glacier.
• It is also home to a number of globally threatened species such as the musk deer, snow leopard, red panda, and Himalayan Tahr, as well as many ethnic groups such as the Lepcha, Bhutia, and Nepalese.
• In the Dzongu Valley of this reserve, there are over 118 species of medicinal plants, many of which have ethno-medical value.
• One of the world's most important religious traditions has a sacred site in KNP. The concept of beyul, or hidden sacred land, is important in Tibetan Buddhism, not only in Sikkim but also in neighbouring countries and beyond. It extends throughout Sikkim but has its heart in the territory of Khangchendzonga National Park.
• The multi-layered sacred landscape of Khangchendzonga, as well as the cultural and religious significance of the hidden land (beyul in Tibetan Buddhism and Mayel Lyang in Lepcha tradition), are unique to Sikkim and serve as a model of coexistence and exchange between people of various religious traditions.
• Traditional knowledge and environmental preservation are exemplified by the Lepcha's indigenous religious and cultural practises in regard to ecology and the specific properties of local plants.
The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve (KBR) of Sikkim, the highest biosphere reserve in the India which also includes the 3rd highest mountain peak in the world, Kanchenjunga (8,586 m), has been included in the UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserve (WHBR). The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve has been added to the UNESCO-designated World Network of Biosphere Reserves as India's 11th Biosphere Reserve (WNBR).
The decision was made at UNESCO's International Coordinating Council (ICC) for the Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme's 30th Session in Palembang, Indonesia.
With the addition of Khangchendzonga to the list of internationally designated WNBRs, India now has 18 Biosphere Reserves, with 7 of them being domestic Biosphere Reserves.
No. Name of Biosphere Reserve Year of Notification Location (States)
1 Nilgiri 1986 Part of Wayanad, Nagarhole, Bandipur and Madumalai, Nilambur, Silent Valley, and Siruvani hills (Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka).
2 Nanda Devi 1988 Part of Chamoli, Pithoragarh, and Bageshwar districts (Uttarakhand).
3 Nokrek 1988 Part of Garo Hills (Meghalaya).
4 Great Nicobar 1989 Southernmost islands of Andaman And Nicobar (A&N Islands).
5 Gulf of Mannar 1989 The Indian part of the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka (Tamil Nadu).
6 Manas 1989 Part of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamprup, and Darang districts (Assam).
7 Sunderbans 1989 Part of the delta of Ganges and Brahmaputra river system
8 Simlipal 1994 Part of the Mayurbhanj district (Orissa).
9 Dibru-Saikhowa 1997 Part of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia Districts (Assam).
10 Dehang-Dibang 1998 Part of Siang and Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh.
11 Pachmarhi 1999 Parts of Betul, Hoshangabad, and Chindwara districts of Madhya Pradesh.
12 Khangchendzonga 2000 Parts of Khangchendzonga hills and Sikkim.
13 Agasthyamalai 2001 Neyyar, Peppara, and Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuaries and their adjoining areas in Kerala.
14 Achanakamar – Amarkantak 2005 Covers parts of Anupur and Dindori districts of M.P. and parts of Bilaspur districts of Chhattishgarh State.
15 Kachchh 2008 Part of Kachchh, Rajkot, Surendra Nagar, and Patan Civil Districts of Gujarat State.
16 Cold Desert 2009 Pin Valley National Park and surroundings; Chandratal and Sarchu & Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh.
17 Seshachalam Hills 2010 Seshachalam Hill Ranges covering parts of Chittoor and Kadapa districts of Andhra Pradesh.
18 Panna 2011 Part of Panna and Chhattarpur districts in Madhya Pradesh.
WHAT ARE BIOSPHERE RESERVES?
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated a Biosphere Reserve (BR) for representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes spanning large areas of terrestrial or coastal/marine ecosystems, or a combination of both.
Biosphere Reserves aims to strike a balance between economic and social development, cultural preservation, and environmental preservation.
Biosphere Reserves are thus unique environments for both people and nature, demonstrating how humans and nature can coexist while respecting each other's needs.
STRUCTURE OF BIOSPHERE RESERVES:
They protect the wild relatives of economically important species while also serving as important genetic reservoirs of high scientific interest.
A core zone is a protected area, such as a National Park or Sanctuary, that is mostly protected and regulated by the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. It is not subjected to human interference.
The buffer zone surrounds the core zone, and its activities are managed in this area in ways that aid in the natural protection of the core zone.
Restoration, limited tourism, fishing, grazing, and other activities are allowed to reduce the impact on the core zone.
Activities such as research and education should be encouraged.
It is the biosphere reserve's most remote location. It is a cooperative zone where human endeavours and environmental protection coexist.
Settlements, croplands, managed forests, and areas for intensive recreation, as well as other economic uses, are all included.
UNESCO BIOSPHERE RESERVES
To avoid conflicts between development and conservation, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated natural areas as ‘Biosphere Reserves.' Under UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Reserve Program, national governments nominate Biosphere Reserves that meet a minimum set of criteria. There are 686 biosphere reserves worldwide, including 20 transboundary sites, spread across 122 countries.
MAN AND BIOSPHERE PROGRAM
UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) was established in 1971 as an intergovernmental scientific initiative with the goal of establishing a scientific foundation for the improvement of human-environment relationships.
MAB combines natural and social sciences, economics, and education to improve human livelihoods and the equitable sharing of benefits, as well as to protect natural and managed ecosystems, thereby promoting socially and culturally appropriate, environmentally sustainable economic development.