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Report, 2013

The process of creating Biosphere Reserves

Sandström, Emil; Olsson, Anna


During autumn 2011 The Swedish University of Agricultural Science (SLU) wasgiven the task by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, to evaluate theimplementation processes involved in establishing Biosphere Reserve status in fiveSwedish Biosphere Reserves (of which one is still in candidate phase).The evaluation also aims to be proactive, in order that the conclusions and recommendationsprepare the ground for further work on Biosphere Reserves. The longer-term goal of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, with this and otherevaluations, is to disseminate experience and good practice with respect to effectivemethods for collaboration, and long-term management of natural resources.Within UNESCO's "Man and the Biosphere" (MAB) programme, Biosphere Reservesare important tools. MAB as a concept originated in the 1960s and was fromthe start a scientific initiative. The original idea of the MAB programme was,amongst other things, to find through research, relevant solutions through sensibleuse and conservation of natural resources. The Biosphere Reserve as an idea andtool was introduced into the programme in 1973.Today there are circa 580 areas in over 100 countries worldwide that are internationallyrecognised by UNESCO. Sweden enlisted in the MAB programme in 1986and the development of Biosphere Reserves as determined by what is known as theSeville Strategy 1 (1995) has been on-going since the beginning of 2000. Interest inBiosphere Reserves has grown since then and in the last five years UNESCO hasdesignated four new zones in Sweden (a fifth zone is nominated and will be designatedin July 2012). The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, which supportsthe handling processes of the applications for nomination to Biosphere Reservesby UNESCO has, together with the applicants involved, seen the need tocollate the experiences of the application and implementation processes for designationto Biosphere Reserves.The vision of the Swedish MAB programme is that "Society ensures the basis forhuman welfare through the conservation of biological diversity and sustainable useof ecosystem services" (, April 2012). It is intendedthat the Biosphere Reserves will function as a cohesive unit in order that differentstakeholders get the opportunity to interact in a strategic way, and create the conditionsfor learning. The purpose of the Swedish MAB programme is to "Create conditionsfor Biosphere Reserves to serve as model areas for sustainable development,and stimulate the research which strengthens the role of the Biosphere Reservesin the learning process on sustainable use of ecosystem services, as well asto interact with, and inspire in order to translate experience and knowledge fromthe model areas" (, April 2012).The Programme Committee for the Swedish MAB has a decision-making and financingfunction. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency heads the Committeeand also holds the Chair. In addition the Committee comprises representativesfrom research funding bodies, research institutions, The Swedish Associationof Local Authorities and Regions and The Biosphere Council. The BiosphereCouncil has the task of developing the programme and is the MAB Committee'sExecutive Agency. The membership comprises the national MAB Coordinator andall of the Biosphere Coordinators. Within MAB there is also a Biosphere network,which is intended to work as a reference network made up of stakeholders andthose active within the Biosphere Reserve and the MAB programme.


Biosphere reserve, interactive governance

Published in

Rapport / Naturvårdsverket
2013, number: Report 6563
ISBN: 978-91-620-6563-8
Publisher: The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

    SLU Authors

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
    Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

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