Magazine article The Futurist

Biosphere Reserves

Magazine article The Futurist

Biosphere Reserves

Article excerpt

Network of reserves combines conservation, environmental monitoring, sustainable development

A network of "biosphere reserves" is serving as a giant early-warning device for the health of the planet, according to UNESCO.

Biosphere reserves go beyond traditional wildlife preserves in that they not only set aside habitat to protect species but also function as a laboratory for developing a more-balanced relationship between people and the land. Nature conservation is combined with environmental monitoring, training, demonstration, local participation, and sustainable development. The goal of the biosphere-reserve network established by UNESCO is to create "a vast, natural, global laboratory, gathering and assessing the scale and rate of change in the biosphere," says UNESCO correspondent Howard Brabyn.

Scientists at Alaska's Noatak biosphere reserve are attempting to establish baseline data to detect global warming. (Increases in global temperatures are expected to show up first in the Arctic regions.) Researchers there are also observing the Inupiat Eskimo people, who have lived on a sustainable basis in the region for centuries.

In a sustainable-development project at the Mananara Nord reserve in Madagascar, "local rice production is being increased by the construction of [small dams] on rivers in the area," says Brabyn. …

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