- Recently, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has included the Panna Biosphere Reserve (PBR) in its World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR).
- The PBR is the third in Madhya Pradesh to be included in the list after Pachmarhi and Amarkantak.
- It is the 3rd Biosphere Reserve of Madhya Pradesh.
- The area represents a unique ecosystem within the narrow belt of tabletop mountains of ‘Vindhyan Hill Ranges’ and part of ‘Bundelkhand’ region.
- This includes the traditional agroecosystems, dry deciduous forests of Teak, Salai, Kardhai, bamboo and mixed type of forests.
- It is nearer to the confluence of Deccan Peninsula (Central Highlands) 6 (A), Upper Gangetic Plain 7 (A)) and Semi-Arid Gujrat Rajputana (4B).
- The area becomes unique, reflecting the influence of three bio-geographic regions. From agro-climatic zone point of view, it falls under Bundelkhand and Kymore plateau of Satpura hill ranges.
- The climate is basically semi-arid to dry sub-humid. It is hot and dry for about seven months. The average annual rainfall is almost 1100 mm.
- The villages of this BR have their own culture and tradition. The reserve is inhabited by tribes like Gond (Rajgond, Nandgond and Saurgond) and Khairuas and Yadavas (Dauvas). The economy of the people residing in Panna BR is mostly based on agriculture, cattle rearing, milk yield, etc. The BR area is also significant and popular for its archaeologist’s delight and tourist places.
- The area has Mesolithic rock/cave paintings at Vrihaspati Kunda and Barachh, of the prehistoric man as well as the best sculptural & architectural imprints of the Gupta period. A great defensive fort at Ajaigarh & the ruins of another fort at Rajgarh stands testimony to the historicity & grandeur of Panna’s past.
- The geographical area of Panna BR is distributed in 2 districts covering 6 blocks, each district covering parts of 3 blocks. In totality, 303 villages (rural) & 3 urban agglomerations (i.e., Panna, Khajuraho and Ajaygarh) are located within the reserve.
- In BR area excessive exploitation of natural resources, the threat to the gene pool, wildlife and meadows\open glades are the major critical issue. While arrested succession due to noxious growth of unwanted weeds like lantana, Parthenium etc are the prominent issue of the BR. Threats to indigenous crops, vegetables & fruit-bearing trees as well as unregulated use of chemical fertilizers & pesticides are the key concern in BR villages which require urgent measures to tackle. Similarly, the increasing incidence and evidence of fuelwood extraction, conflict of livestock and wildlife area in the forest area necessities immediate management interventions.
- Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems promoting solutions to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They are internationally recognized, nominated by national governments and remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located.
- Biosphere reserves serve in some ways as “living laboratories” for testing out and demonstrating integrated management of land, water and biodiversity. Collectively, biosphere reserves form a World Network. Within this network, exchanges of information, experiences and personnel are facilitated.
UNESCO – World Network of Biosphere Reserves
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was created on November 16, 1945. Its main goal is to “contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science and culture”.
- In 1968, UNESCO organized the Biosphere Conference, which saw the beginning of the concept of a “Biosphere Reserve”. This was the first intergovernmental conference examining how to reconcile conservation and use of natural resources, thus foreshadowing the present-day notion of sustainable development. This conference resulted in the launching of the UNESCO “Man and the Biosphere” (MAB) Programme in 1970.
- One of the original MAB projects consisted in establishing a coordinated World Network of sites representing the main ecosystems of the planet in which genetic resources would be protected, and where research on ecosystems as well as monitoring and training work could be carried out. These sites were named as “Biosphere Reserves”.
The Man and Biosphere Program recognizes areas that:
- Are typical of the world’s major terrestrial or coastal ecosystems;
- Demonstrate innovative approaches to living and working in harmony with nature; and
- Demonstrate how to achieve a sustainable balance between conserving natural ecosystems and biodiversity and fostering sound economic development.
There are total 11 biosphere reserves of India which have been recognized internationally under Man and Biosphere Reserve program:
- Nilgiri (First to be included)
- Gulf of Mannar
- Nanda Devi
- Achanakmar – Amarkantak
- Great Nicobar
- Khangchendzonga (Added under Man and Biosphere Reserve Program in 2018)