What is a biosphere reserve?

Biosphere reserves explore local solutions to global challenges. These reserves are designated under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme. They seek answers on how to create a sustainable future for people and nature.

So in fact, biosphere reserves are living experiments, helping the world to survive into the future.


They’ve been around a while: in fact, back in the 1930s, UNESCO (United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation) first planned to create a world-wide network of biosphere reserves, to try to find ways of addressing the threats to the ‘living biosphere’ (plants, animals and micro-organisms) and healthy ecosystems, while helping to still meet the needs of people.

Today there are 669 biosphere reserves across 120 countries. Together they bring 680 million hectares of land, coastline and sea into areas seeking to find solutions to reconcile nature and people.

Biosphere reserves are guided by these strategic objectives, as set out in the MAB Programme:

These reserves have 3 zones: core, buffer and transition areas.

In these areas, biosphere reserves integrate biological and cultural diversity, recognising the role of traditional and local knowledge in managing ecosystems. They are based on a multi-stakeholder approach. Key here is involving local communities in management and governance.


To conserve biodiversity, restore and enhance ecosystem services, and foster the sustainable use of natural resources.


To contribute to building sustainable, healthy and equitable societies, economies and thriving human settlements in harmony with the biosphere.


To facilitate biodiversity and sustainability science, education for sustainable development and capacity building.


To support mitigation and adaptation to climate change and other aspects of global environmental change.

Here there are no fences keeping nature in and people out.

In fact, biosphere reserves capture the commitment of communities to conservation to ensure their generations to come will enjoy a healthy environment and live a sustainable lifestyle.


African penguins: The importance of Stony Point

African penguins: The importance of Stony Point

The African penguin is endemic to South-Western Africa and currently breeds in 27 localities. In the early part of the 20th century the African penguin population was over a million breeding pairs globally, but it

How wildfire impacts on our water

How wildfire impacts on our water

Once a wildfire is extinguished, you may think that it’s the end of the fire. But the impact on biodiversity and ecosystem services will continue to play out for a long time to come. Fire, for example has the

Biosphere Living

If you live in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve region, you’re already enjoying Biosphere Life. That means you can already enjoy all that Mother Nature offers you here, in this incredibly special part of the world. MORE


You can take the next step, to become even more involved in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve.

And remember to include us in your social media posts, by using the hashtag: #BiosphereLiving.