Black River Gorges-Bel Ombre Biosphere Reserve
Biosphere Reserves and the Man and Biosphere (MAB)
Programme Biosphere reserves are sites designated under the intergovernmental Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme of the UNESCO. They are internationally recognized sites that promote solutions for reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.
The MAB programme is the oldest intergovernmental scientific programme of the UNESCO and has celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021. The World Network of Biosphere Reserves encopass all types of ecosystems, including urban areas, and comprises of 738 biosphere reserves in 134 countries, including 22 transboundary sites.
The Black River Gorges Bel Ombre Biosphere Reserve
The Black River Gorges Bel Ombre Biosphere Reserve (BRGBOBR) is important for the conservation of the last remnants of the endemic vegetation and tropical evergreen forest of Mauritius. It was designated in 1977 and is administered by the National Parks and Conservation Service of the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security.
However, in 2017, the biosphere reserve was at risk of being delisted due to a change in the criteria for UNESCO biosphere reserves. Subsequently, Mauritius submitted a renomination dossier in 2019 which included the inclusion of buffer and transition zones. It was also the first time that the private sector had engaged in designating part of its land as buffer zone. BRGBOBR was announced as the new biosphere reserve for Mauritius and as a compliant member of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in October 2020.
BRGBOBR covers a total area of 8,582.21 ha which include a core area of 6,574 ha, a buffer zone of 497.21 ha, and a transition zone of 1,511 ha. It also forms part of the regional AfriMAB and the World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves.
The St Martin-Bel Ombre Village
The St Martin-Bel Ombre Village is the first village to have international recognition and is within the BRGBOBR. The vision of the Government is to include more villages and to expand further the Biosphere Reserve so as to ensure protection of our natural heritage and promote sustainable development for the benefit of the people.
International Day for Biosphere Reserves
To highlight the contribution of 50 years of the UNESCO MAB programme and the global presence of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, a decision was taken by the General Conference of Parties of the UNESCO in September 2021 to proclaim 3rd November as the International Day for Biosphere Reserves.
The 3rd November 2022 will therefore be celebrated as the first International Day for Biosphere Reserves. The purpose of this internationally designated day is to provide on an annual basis, a wake-up call to the world’s population on the sustainable development approach to modern life and the leading and exemplary role that the World Network of Biosphere Reserves can play in this regard.
It is anticipated that the celebration of the International Day for Biosphere Reserve will inspire leaders and decision-makers to act on the importance of reinforcing care for the environment and support actions which balance human activities with the conservation of natural resources. Such actions shall contribute towards addressing global climate, health and environmental challenges, and meeting sustainable development goals and targets. It is also anticipated that this celebration shall encourage society to understand the importance of sustainability in achieving well-being and will encourage young people to see it as an effective way of life for creative problem-solving and for developing practical solutions to the many problems facing the world.