Friday, May 23, 2008

Support for the Man and the Biospere (MAB) Program

The Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB), proposes an interdisciplinary research agenda and capacity building. Launched in the early 1970s, it promotes research and knowledge sharing on the ecological, social and economic dimensions of biodiversity and the conditions needed to maintain biodiversity. The program uses its World Network of Biosphere Reserves as vehicles for knowledge-sharing, research and monitoring, education and training, and participatory decision-making.aiming to improve the relationship of people with their environment globally.

Species are becoming extinct at a historically unprecedented rate, and the genetic diversity within species is also decreasing for many species as the number of living plants or animals in the species decreases. If that fact alone does not offend you, then you should be at least worried that the loss of biodiversity will mean a loss of genetic resources for agriculture, medicine and even industry.

Bioreserves provide refuges where biodiversity can be maintained. In situ preservation requires reserves to be located in a very wide variety of locations in order that all the ecological systems can be represented in the network. Indeed, the areas of greatest biodiversity in relatively untouched ecosystems are in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Thus a global network of bioreserves is needed for the benefit of mankind.

The network is, of course, not a sovereign entity, and each bioreserve falls under the sovereign control of the nation in which it is located. The United States needs bioreserves within our own nation for the safeguarding of its biodiversity. By participating in the international network, we help assure that other nations will support their own bioreserves, and that the overall network will protect global biodiversity for all of mankind.

The United States was instrumental in the creating the Man and the Biosphere program, and was an active participant during the time that America was a member of UNESCO and indeed during the period that we had withdrawn from the organization. There are now 531 bioreserves in 105 countries in the MAB network; the United States has 47 bioreserves.

The U.S. MAB Committee was a good one. It was reconvened briefly after the United States rejoined UNESCO, but it was disbanded in 2005. Draft legislation is now being considered for restitution of the U.S. participation in the Man and the Biosphere program, and the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO recommended that participation be restarted as soon as possible!

The George Wright Society provides this website on UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere program.

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