‘Biosphere’ is the scientific name for the living surface of our planet, encompassing the land, the sea and the air we breathe.

UNESCO Biospheres are areas across the globe that have been endorsed by the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme as outstanding places for nature and for people – places where there is a healthy balance between the two. There are 701 biosphere sites in 124 countries. These regions are also known as biosphere reserves. Although this might imply it’s about keeping people out, it’s actually about enabling people to enjoy these special places to the full and get involved in helping to keep them special.


UNESCO Biosphere Regions, or Reserves, are all about actively taking care of ‘living landscapes’ – special places for nature where people also live and work. A UNESCO biosphere region has three functions:

Conservation, Development, Knowledge

In biosphere regions, conservation is applied in its widest sense. This is not only about looking after wildlife, landscapes and culture, but also creating and maintaining the very best environment and community to provide for us – our food, our water, our health and wellbeing.

This is about maintaining and improving our infrastructure and economy in ways that respect and support our amazing environment. Introducing energy-saving measures, supporting local produce and minimising waste are just three examples.

Biosphere regions promote environmental education, research and public engagement to help people understand our biosphere, why it's so important for us to look after it and how we can do this better.