Natural Environment


What is a Biosphere Reserve?

Biosphere Reserves are areas of world-class natural value, designated by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational and Scientific and Cultural Organisation).They demonstrate the best examples of people working in harmony with nature for the benefit of all. In doing so, they show how we all have responsibility for our natural environment.

They have been described as the biological equivalent of World Heritage Sites, but they differ in approach. Biosphere Reserves are ‘living laboratories’ for testing out and demonstrating sustainable development on
a regional scale.

Biosphere Annual Report 2013-14 image - PDF icon (4.30MB - pdf help)

They have 3 functions and 3 zones.


  • Conservation.
  • Learning and research.
  • Sustainable Development.


  • A Core area - the iconic world-class eco-system.
  • A Buffer zone: which surrounds and supports the core area, and where local people can derive direct benefits from the ecosystem (such as quality recreation areas and opportunities to develop tourism or locally branded foods).
  • A Transition area: where individual and community
    contributions to sustainable development, can greatly enhance environmental quality of the area.



The aspiration for Biosphere Reserves is to be
sustainable communities, where people can live and
work in an area of high environmental quality and
be a beacon for other areas to learn from. Given
the broad range of concepts involved in sustainable development, the aim is to be:

  • Environmentally sustainable through the wise use of our natural resources and mindful of the impacts that we have on wider society and future generations.
  • Economically sustainable through the development of an economy that ensures a good quality of life for our residents and visitors
  • Socially sustainable through reducing inequalities, sharing benefits derived from our special environment, empowering people and striving to support their well-being

To achieve these challenging goals will require innovation, entrepreneurs and bold leaders, willing to make the most of this opportunity that UNESCO has given us.  Find out more, become a Biosphere supporter and get your 'pin' on the Biosphere interactive map.

Biosphere & Business

The Biosphere Reserve is continually looking at ways that it can help businesses maximise the benefit they receive from the environment and things it can do to preserve and sustain that environment for future generations. We call this Investing in Nature.

We are developing a scheme for businesses to share in the success of the Biosphere brand through stages of sustainable accreditation - this is our Business Charter. In return for the accreditation the business will receive expert advice to help them on their sustainable journey and be able to gain market advantage with customers seeking a world class environmental credential

Investing in Nature logo

Businesses in the sceme:

Tarka Trail Guide
Wheatland Farm

Station Masters Cafe
Source Renewables Ltd
Yarde orchard café
Froot Loop
Beetlebank Restoration
Heritage Cob and Lime
The Bullworthy Project

Find out more