There has been a worldwide concern over the damage caused to the coastal areas due to man-made and natural changes. Various activities which are being undertaken in the coastal areas and in surrounding seas have resulted in the degradation of wetlands, fllodplains, seagrass beds and coral reed throughout the world (Carpenter 1983.) Worldwide awareness for the creation of Marine Biosphere Reserves has increased considerably due to the human depredation in many coastal areas and natural changes. many important and unique plant and animal species have been extinct and whatever remains, need to be conserved and managed for posterity.  

The enormous degree of marine environmental problems has led to the concept of Biosphere Reserve. This concept was initiated in 1964 during the International Biological Programme (IBP) under the auspices of the International Council of Scientific Union (ICSU). On the basis of this study UNESCO launched the Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB) on global basis in 1974. The concept of Biosphere Reserve encompases human beings, their needs, problems and development as one of the components which differ from sancturies where priority is given to wild life.  

Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme of UNESCO launched in 1971 aims at developing a base for rational use or conservation of natural resources while improving the relationship between the man and environment. Besides, this objective is also to predict the consequence of man's enterventions on nature today on tommorow's world and thus increase his ability for managing the natural resource effectively.. It also aims to fill the still significant gaps in the understanding of the structure and function of ecosystems and of the impact of different types of human intervention. 

The International Coordinating Council which supervises the MAB programme, at its first session in 1971, decided that one of the themes of this programme was to be the 'conservation of natural areas and genetic material they contain'. Under this theme was introduced the concept of the Biosphere Reserve, which was intended to be a series of protected areas linked through a coordinated international network, which would demonstrate the value of conservation and its relationship with develoment. The concept was innovative because of this network character and because it combined Nature conservation with scientific research, environmental monitoring, training, demonstrations, environmental education and local participation. 

Since the very beginning of the implementation of the concept of Biosphere Reserve as representative ecological areas, the international Biosphere Reserve network has formed a geographic focus for implementing the MAB Programme. 

The first Biosphere Reserves were designated in 1976. Subsequently, the network has grown steadily until 1984; it consists of total of 269 in 74 countries. In this period, cooperation with other international organizations involved with conservation and sustainable development has been strengthened; particularly involved are the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resource (IUCN). Representatives of these four organizations meet together regularly through the Ecosystem Conservation Group, to coordinate action. 

The first international congress convened jointly by UNESCO and UNEP at Minsk (USSR) in 1983 outlined the broad characteristics of the biosphere reserve representing terresterial and coastal environment in various bio-geographic provinces of the world 

Each biosphere reserve has been designated to consist of 

Nature or Core Zone : Managed for minimum human interference to serve as a baseline for the biological region; research, educational and training activities are carefully controlled and must be non-manipulative 

Manipulative or Buffer Zone : Managed for research , education and training activities, and manipulative methods and techniques are permitted. Traditional activities including timber extraction, hunting, fishing and grazing are permitted in controlled manner. 

Reclamation of Restoration Zone : Managed to study and reclaim lands and natural resources where heavy natural or human-caused alteration has passed ecological threshold or where biological processes have been interrupted or where species have become totally extinct. 

Stable Cultural Zone : Managed to protect and study ongoing culture and land practices which are in harmony with the environment. Local residents and their activities be strictly controlled. 

India with about 7860 km coastline including two groups of islands has tremendous potential for marine living resources. certain areas such Malvan (Maharashtra), Okha (Gujarat), Mandapam (Tamil Nadu), Gangetic Sundarbans (West Bengal) as well as Lakshadweep and Andaman group of islands have showm richness with regard to the marine flora and fauna.  

Status of Marine Biosphere Reserve in India :  Inorder to preserve and protect the unique and ecologically important plant and animal species, attempts are being made to conserve some of the vulnerable areas along the Indian coast line as Biosphere Reserve. Th Indian National Man and Biosphere Reserve Committee constituted a core committee in 1974 to identify areas for Biosphere Reserves. As per the guidelines the committee identified fourteen sites as potential Biosphere Reserves out of which five are Marine Biosphere Reserves. They are :  

Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve (Tamil Nadu)  
Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve (West Bengal)  
Great Nicobar iosphere Reserve (Andaman and Nicobar Islands)  
North Andaman Biosphere Reserve (Andaman and Nicobar Islands)  
Little Rann of Kuchchh Reserve (Gujrat)  

Apart from these five declared Marine Biosphere Reserves some more areas along the Indian coast line have been identified. These are as follows :  

Malvan Biosphere Reserve  
Gulf of Khambat Biosphere Reserve  
Chilka Lake Biosphere Reserve  
Lakshadweep Biosphere Reserve  
Bhitarkanika Biosphere Reserve  

Malvan Biosphere Reserve  
it is situated along the Maharashtra coast line between 16o15' to 16o50' N latitude and 73o27' to 73o31' E longitude. The coastline is indented with creeks and bays. Prominent creeks aare kolamb, Kalavati and Karli. These creeks show good growth of mangroves and seagrasses. Sand dune vegetation is found to be very rich. This area is free of pollution and harbours a variety of flora and fauna. There are 94 species of marine algae. Mangrove species such Rhizophora mucronata, Avicennia officinalis, Excoecaria etc. flourish well in the creek.  

Faunal composition comprises of 198 speciesr representing sponges, seafans, soft corals, sea anemones, hard corals etc. which thrive well in the intertidal area. Live pearl oyster and red coral are also found in this area.  

Gulf of Khambat Biosphere Reserve  
It is situated to the east of the Saurashtra Penninsula separating it from the mainland 22o15' to 20o30' N longitude and 71o50' to 73o longitude. It extends from south to north narrowing into the estuary of river Mahe. River Narmada and Sabarmati flow into the Gulf. The characteristic feature of this bay is the large tidal range and extensive mudflats on either side of the Gulf.  

The extensive mudflats of this area attract numerous waders and is the winter home of two species of flamingos. Common and domicile cranes also assemble on these mudflats to rrost. Large assemblage of cranes in winter is the characteristic feature of the estuary of River Shetrungi. A very small patch of mangroves is seen near Bhavnagar post.  

Chilka Lake Biosphere reserve  
It is the largest lagoon in Asia and is locate south of the Mahanadi delta 19o30' N and 85o30' E separated by a large san bar which steeply slopes down into the open sea at the northern end. The main body of the lagoon is 50 km long and 20 km wide. The island in the middle of the lake gets inundated during the south-west monsoon. Fresh water from the surrounding areas and from one of the tributaries of the Mahanadi considerably reduces the salinity of water, turning it brackish.  

This lake has important prawn, mullet and crab fisheries. It is a major wintering spot for water fowl, pintail and other species of wintering ducks and geese. With regard to the bird life, this lake is on par with the Bharatpur Sanctuary. Sand dunes facing the sea may provide hatching sites for marine turtles.  

Lakshadweep Biosphere Reserve  
Lakshadweep group of islands lie about 300 kms to the west of Kerala 72o E 11oN. These islands are typical of coral atolls. Several of the large islands are inhabited while the samller ones are uninhabited except for fishermen's brief visits.  

These group of islands are of considerable importance for active conservation programmes as they are rich in marine life. Several atolls house breeding colonies of tropical oceanis birds and marine turtles. Mangrove vegetation is found only at the Minicoy island in small patch.  

Bhitarkanika Biosphere reserve  

It is situated to the north of the Mahanadi delta 20o N and 86o59' E, having tidal creeks. there is also the Bhitarkaniaka Island and few smaller islands. This was the reserve of the former Rajas of Kanika. Considerable mangrove forests still cover many of the tidal islands.  

Rediscovery of reptiles which formely inhabited the coastal mangrove all along the east coast has lead to the conservation of this area. a 5 m long estuarine crocodilus porosus is the largest living reptile found in India and calls for immediate conservation measures.  

The basic aim of the biosphere reserve is the conservation of biotic community as a whole. Some of the coastal areas are very rich and unique in flora and fauna. these areas are required to be conserved for germplasm of all the economically important floral and faunal species. various river banks and coasts have flourishing mangroves which are being deforested for fuel and reclamation. Strict measures are required to be taken not to disturb the mangrove zone and should be left as it is for maintaining coastal ecosystem.  

Depletion of various unique and economically important species is the result of overexploitation. Hence emphasis should be given harvest the resources on sustainable basis. Industrial revolution has resulted in coastal pollution endangering flora and fauna. To avoid further damage due to industrial and sewage pollution, monitoring if impact together with strict measures to control pollution, should be adopted.  

Station Name Area
Andaman & Nicobar National parks  
Marine (Wandoor)  
Middle Button Islands  
North Button Islands  
South Button Islands  


Interview Island  
Mangrove Island  
Mangrove Reef Island  
South Sentinel island  
Tillanchang island  



West Bengal Biosphere Reserve  
Sundarbans  National park  

Halliday Island  
Lothian Island  
Sanjnakhali Island  
World Heritage site  
Sundarbans National Park




Orissa National Park  
Bhitar Kanika  

Bhitar Kanika



Andhra Pradesh Sanctuary  
Tamil Nadu Biosphere Reserve  
Gulf of Mannar Marine  
Marine National Park  
Gulf of Mannar  

Point Calimere  Reserve Forest  




Kerala Sanctuary  
Karnataka Sanctuary  
Rocky Beach
Goa Sanctuary  
Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary Chodan (Chorao)
Maharashtra Sanctuary  
Gujarat Marine National Park