New sites with coral reefs to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR)

The International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), meeting in Dresden (Germany) from 28 June to 1 July, has added 18 new sites to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), which now numbers 580 sites in 114 countries.

Biosphere Reserves were inscribed in Lithuania, Maldives, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Togo for the first time this year. Meanwhile, Australia decided to withdraw Macquarie Island from the World Network of Biosphere Reserves because the site is uninhabited by humans and human presence has been a criterion for inclusion in the Network since 1995.

Brief descriptions of the new sites with coral reefs:

Baa Atoll, Maldives, harbours globally significant biodiversity in its numerous reefs and demonstrates a long history of human interaction with the environment. Covering approximately 139,700 ha of coastal/marine areas, the site is representative of the Maldives’ high diversity of reef animals, with stony and soft corals, reef associated fish species, marine turtles, manta rays and whale sharks. In addition to its 12,170 inhabitants, some 350,000 tourists visit the biosphere reserve annually. As part of a Global Environment Facility (GEF) project, the site has great potential for demonstrating sustainable development throughout the Maldives and the region, while relying on a green economy.


St. Mary’s, Saint Kitts and Nevis, is an important site in terms of biological diversity, comprising cloud forests, mangroves and coral reefs. It includes Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park World Heritage site, which is of particular historical, cultural and architectural significance. It represents one of the first Biosphere Reserves of the small Caribbean island countries and could serve as an example of village participation in preserving the outstanding mosaic of natural and cultural landscape values.