WANT TO Get Involved?

If you love the Isle of Man and want to help keep it special, there are a variety of ways to get involved in UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man projects.

Here are a few suggestions.


UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. It was established after World War Two and seeks to build peace through international cooperation and understanding.

Biosphere is the scientific word for the living surface of our planet.

Biodiversity is the living species of the planet, ranging from on-land animals, insects and plants to marine (sea) versions of the same. See the UN Convention on Biological Diversity definition. The word biosphere means the living surface of the planet. UNESCO Biospheres are defined in this FAQs.

Biosphere is a scientific programme created under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, a sister programme to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Creative Cities and Global Geoparks. The MAB Programme is 52 years old.

Biospheres promote three global functions of conservation, learning and sustainable development to create a balanced relationship between people, place and planet that will benefit all in the long term.

The Man and the Biosphere Strategy 2015-2025, incorporating the Lima Action Plan 2016-2026, serves as the roadmap for the implementation of the Man and the Biosphere Programme.

The Isle of Man has an outstanding combination of landscapes, nature, wildlife, culture and heritage, a strong sense of community and a resilient, diverse, modern, economy to support these.

Several years of work by Government and other major stakeholders led to the Isle of Man submitting nomination papers to UNESCO in 2015 and the Isle of Man was admitted to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves by the International Coordinating Council in 2016.

No. Membership of the World Network of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves is earned and not paid for.

Biospheres must deliver the three global functions but as all Biospheres are so different, they have their own management plans delivered according to their own imperatives. UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man delivers these via its strategy 'Working Together for a Sustainable Future' and its five Es of economy, education, engagement, enjoyment and environment.

Two-full time officers, a Higher Executive Officer and an Administration Officer, work for, and the budget is held at, the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture, a Department of the Isle of Man Government.

A Stakeholder Partnership Group, chaired by the Chief Minister and comprising 15 bodies, steers UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man. The group has its own terms of reference. The Biosphere reports to the UK Man and the Biosphere Committee and, ultimately, oversight is with UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme secretariat in Paris. The UK National Commission for UNESCO guides all UNESCO designations in the UK and Isle of Man and involves the Isle of Man in initiatives and reports.

The Biosphere is divided into core areas, care areas and sustainable development areas.

Core areas are at the heart of the Biosphere and are areas that are already legally protected because of their special features. They include the Ayres National Nature Reserve and the Calf of Man. See 'UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man' and this more detailed list.

Care areas are managed in a way that’s compatible with conservation and include Manx Wildlife Trust nature reserves and Manx National Heritage monuments. See 'UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man'.

This is the rest of the Isle of Man, urban and rural, and where most of us live and work. See 'UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man'.

The Island's Biosphere status confirms it as a place that cares about and is committed to a sustainable future. It is a driver for good decision-making, instils pride in our Island among our population and allows the Island to connect up with, and learn from, a global network of UNESCO sites.

Nowhere is 'perfect' but the Island's Biosphere status encourages us to strike the best balance possible between sustainable development and conservation of what we hold dear, with learning and research an important part of this.

The Isle of Man Biosphere will undergo a periodic review in 2026 (and each subsequent 10 years after becoming a Biosphere) during which UNESCO will evaluate the Island's progress as a Biosphere.

Not formally. UNESCO sets the review at 10 years to allow Biospheres to establish themselves, develop and deliver. However, the Biosphere reports every six months to the UK Man and the Biosphere Committee, to which it belongs, and maintains regular dialogue with officials from the UK National Commission for UNESCO and the Man and the Biosphere Programme secretariat over issues and initiatives. Coordinators from the Isle of Man, UK and Ireland Biospheres also meet formally biannual and share initiatives/support each other a lot more frequently in practice.

A detailed report on a standard form provided by UNESCO MAB Programme has to be submitted by 30 September in the 10th anniversary year of designation, so in September 2026, and every 10 years after that. The form can be seen on the UNESCO website.

This is reviewed by the International Advisory Committee on Biosphere Reserves. This evaluates a Biosphere’s performance based on several factors, including its original nomination papers to UNESCO (what it set out to achieve), its compliance with the Statutory Framework for Biosphere Reserves, its performance against the Lima Action Plan (2016-2025) and other factors as can be seen in the periodic review form. Following its evaluation, the Committee makes a recommendation to the International Coordinating Council of the MAB Programme. The Council will either (1) formally recognise that the performance is satisfactory or has improved since designation or (2) recommend measures to improve performance

UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man is situated in DEFA, whose expert officers scrutinise, comment on and recommend surveys in relation to planning applications and the environmental protection legislation that they implement.

Biosphere is not enshrined in law and has no 'powers'. Instead, it is a driver for good decision-making and positive actions that benefit our Island and our planet.

Businesses can greatly influence sustainability through the decisions they make and actions they take. They can also influence their workforces and customers to adopt sustainable practices. Businesses that are Biosphere Partners benefit from an exclusive facebook page, training and promotion and can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.

The project has a budget of £50,000 a year and two officers, a project officer and a project assistant. However, the cross-community, collaborative, nature of the project means much valuable work is achieved at no cost.

Unfortunately not. However, many 'Biosphere projects' may be eligible for Manx Lottery Trust, Culture Vannin, Isle of Man Arts Council or other funding or attract private sponsorship or support.


If you love the Isle of Man and want to help keep it special, there are a variety of ways to get involved in UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man projects. Here are a few suggestions.

Please help us spread the word about Biosphere Isle of Man!