New Sunshine Coast Biosphere Reserve announced
Congratulations to the Sunshine Coast Council on the announcement of the new Sunshine Coast Biosphere Reserve!
The new Sunshine Coast Biosphere Reserve was announced by the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) International Coordinating Council (ICC) in Paris on 15 June 2022. This will be Australia’s fifth active biosphere reserve and will link the existing Noosa and Great Sandy biosphere reserves along the southern Queensland coast.
The Sunshine Coast Biosphere Reserve aligns with the boundaries of the Sunshine Coast Council and covers a total area of 258,500 hectares and features protected marine and terrestrial areas, rural lifestyles, as well as urban areas where people live and work. The region encompasses both biological and cultural diversity with a rich Indigenous and multicultural history that provides for a range of lifestyles and includes historical places that are valued by the community.
More information is available on the Sunshine Coast Council website.
UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme
Australia is an active and respected participant in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and has been since its launch in 1971. Biosphere Reserves are internationally recognised areas designated through UNESCO.
The Man and the Biosphere Programme is an intergovernmental scientific programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for enhancing the relationship between people and their environments. It contributes to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals by promoting dialogue, knowledge sharing, poverty reduction and human well-being improvements, and respect for cultural values and society’s ability to cope with change.
2021 is the 50th anniversary of the Man and the Biosphere Programme. The anniversary will pay tribute to the people who have shaped the programme and will promote UNESCO’s historic and ongoing contribution to biodiversity conservation under the theme ‘It’s about life!’. You can find more information about anniversary activities at 50th anniversary of the Man and the Biosphere Programme.
Australia’s Man and the Biosphere National Committee 2021 Report to the 33rd UNESCO Man and the Biosphere International Coordinating Council can be found at: National Report Australia.
2021 Michel Bâtisse Award for Biosphere Reserve Management
The UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme has awarded the 2021 Michel Bâtisse Award for Biosphere Reserve Management to the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation.
The award recognises outstanding achievements in the management of the Biosphere Reserves and is presented every two years.
The award is for the Keeping it in Kin Kin project, an erosion remediation project improving agricultural productivity, waterway health and water quality within the Noosa Catchment. The project was delivered in partnership with Noosa Landcare.
This is the first time Australia has won this award, with previous winners including Spain, Slovakia and China.
The award is acknowledgement of the success of the MAB programme in Australia, and to receive this award in the 50th anniversary of the MAB Programme is a special honour.
What is a Biosphere Reserve?
Biosphere Reserves are areas of terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems that are managed with the aim of balancing biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources. The planning and management of Biosphere Reserves relies on the participation of the local community and interested stakeholders. The World Network of Biosphere Reserves includes 714 Biosphere Reserves in 129 countries.
Each Biosphere Reserve consists of three zones: a core area, buffer zone and a transition area (Figure 1).
- The core area is a strictly protected zone that contributes to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation.
- The buffer zone surrounds or adjoins the core area(s) and is used for activities compatible with sound ecological practices that can reinforce scientific research, monitoring, training and education.
- The transition area is where community’s foster socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable economic and human activities.
Figure 1. Biosphere Reserve three main zones (Full description of Figure 1: What are Biosphere Reserves?)
Biosphere Reserves in Australia
Map of Australian Biosphere Reserves
Biosphere Reserves are an international designation made by the UNESCO (on the basis of nominations submitted by countries participating in the Man and the Biosphere Programme).
Australia currently has 4 Biosphere Reserves:
- Fitzgerald Biosphere Reserve, Western Australia
- Great Sandy Biosphere Reserve, Queensland
- Mornington Peninsula and Western Port Biosphere Reserve, Victoria
- Noosa Biosphere Reserve, Queensland
Focal Point - The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
The Department acts as the national focal point for the Man and the Biosphere Programme in Australia providing a link between the Australian Man and the Biosphere National Committee and the UNESCO International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme. This includes working with the Australian National Commission for UNESCO, within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which has overall responsibility for UNESCO activities in Australia. At the 2017 UNESCO General Conference, Australia commenced a four-year term as a member of the Man and the Biosphere Programme International Coordinating Council.
The Australian Man and the Biosphere National Committee (AusMAB)
The Australian Man and the Biosphere National Committee was re-established in 2020. The Committee includes representatives from active Biosphere Reserves, the community, and relevant scientific and government experts. The Committee works to promote the MAB Programme in Australia and serves as a relay between organisations, the community and all levels of government involved in the Man and the Biosphere Programme in Australia.
Withdrawal of Australian Biosphere Reserves
In accordance with UNESCO’s request that all Biosphere Reserves unable to comply with the revised criteria outlined in the 1995 Seville Strategy and Statutory Framework withdraw from the Programme by 2020, Australia has withdrawn 10 Biosphere Reserves from the programme.
The new criteria require all sites to include: (1) one or more legally constituted core areas, devoted to long-term protection; (2) adjacent buffer zones; and (3) an outer transition area where sustainable development is promoted and developed by public authorities, local communities and enterprises. In 2018, following a thorough assessment, five Australian Biosphere Reserves withdrew from the Programme: Wilsons Promontory, Hattah-Kulkyne/Murray-Kulkyne, Yathong, Prince Regent and Barkindji Biosphere Reserve. In 2020 the 26th session of the IAC confirmed the voluntary withdrawal of the final five Biosphere Reserves identified through the assessment process: Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Croajingolong, Riverland, Kosciuszko National Park and Mamungari Conservation Park.
In Australia withdrawal from the MAB Programme does not affect the legal protection or conservation outcomes for protected areas located within Biosphere Reserves.