BIOSPHERE RESERVES OF TAMIL NADU (For TNPSC and Other Competitive Exams)
THE BIOSPHERE RESERVES 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 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: the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR). Within this network, exchanges of information, experience and personnel are facilitated. There are over 500 biosphere reserves in over 100 countries (UNESCO).
THE BENEFIT OF BIOSPHERES RESERVES The biosphere reserve concept can be used as a framework to guide and reinforce projects to enhance people's livelihoods and ensure environmental sustainability. UNESCO’s recognition can serve to highlight and reward such individual efforts. The designation of a site as a biosphere reserve can raise awareness among local people, citizens and Government Authorities on Environmental and development issues (UNESCO).
THE BIOSPHERES RESERVES OF TAMIL NADU Tamil Nadu is the only State have three Biosphere Reserves in India, which one recently (2016) declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Site is Agasthiarmalai Biosphere and The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and Gulf of Mannar Bioshphere.
1. NILGIRI BIOSPHERE RESERVE The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is an International Biosphere Reserve in the Western Ghats and Nilgiri Hills ranges of South India. The Western Ghats, Nilgiri Sub-Cluster (6,000+ km²), conjoining the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, is a World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO in 2012. It includes the Mudumalai, Mukurthi, Wayanad and Bandipur National Parks. A Fascinating Ecosystem of the hill ranges of Nilgiris and its surrounding environments covering a tract of over 5000 square kilometers was constituted as Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in September 1986 under Man and Biosphere Programme. The Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve is India's First and Foremost Biosphere reserves with a heritage, rich in flora and fauna The reserve encompasses 5,520 km² in the states of Tamil Nadu (2537.6 km²), Karnataka (1527.4 km²) and Kerala (1455.4 km²). It forms an almost complete ring around the Nilgiri Plateau. The biosphere lies between 10°50'N and 12°16'N latitude and 76°00'E to 77°15'E longitude. The reserve encompasses three Ecoregions, the South Western Ghats moist deciduous forests, South Western Ghats Montane Rain Forests, and South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests.
The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is very rich in plant diversity. About 3,300 species of flowering plants can be seen here. Of the 3,300 species, 132 are endemic to the reserve. About 80% of flowering plants reported from Western Ghats occur in NBR.
Core and buffer areas The 1986 designation by the Government of India established core and buffer areas within the biosphere reserve. Core area: 1240.3 km² (701.8 km² in Karnataka, 264.5 km² in Kerala, 274 km² in Tamil Nadu), Buffer area: 4280.
2. GULF OF MANNAR BIOSPHERE RESERVE The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve covers an area of 10,500 km² of ocean, islands and the adjoining coastline. The islets and coastal buffer zone includes beaches, estuaries, and tropical dry broadleaf forests, while the marine environments include seaweed communities, sea grass communities, coral reefs, salt marshes and mangrove forests. The Gulf of Mannar is a large shallow bay forming part of the Laccadive Sea in the Indian Ocean. It lies between the southeastern tip of India and the west coast of Sri Lanka, in the Coromandel Coast Region. A chain of low islands and reefs known as Ramsethu, also called Adam's Bridge, which includes Mannar Island, separates the Gulf of Mannar from Palk Bay, which lies to the north between India and Sri Lanka. The estuaries of Thamirabarani River of South India and the Malvathu River of Sri Lanka drain into the Gulf
The Gulf of Mannar is known to harbour over 3,600 species of flora and fauna, making it one of the richest coastal regions in Asia. 117 hard coral species have been recorded in the Gulf of Mannar. Sea turtles are frequent visitors to the gulf as are sharks, dugongs, and dolphins. The chief seaports on the Gulf of Mannar are Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) in Tamil Nadu, and Colombo in Sri Lanka. While these ports can accommodate deep-draft vessels, the shallow Palk Strait can only accommodate small shallow-draft vessels. In July 2005, the Indian Government took preliminary steps to go ahead with the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project, which would create a deep channel linking the Gulf of Mannar to the Bay of Bengal. Project boosters emphasize the benefits of a direct shipping route that connects India's east and west coasts without the long trip around Sri Lanka; environmentalists have warned against the grave damage such a project could cause to the sea life and fisheries of the Palk Strait and the Gulf.
3. AGASTHYAMALAI BIOSPHERE RESERVE (ABR) The Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve (ABR) was Established in 2001 and includes 3,500.36 km2 (1,351.50 sq mi) of which 1672.36 km² is in Tamil Nadu and 1828 km² is in Kerala and Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve became part of World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 2016. ABR straddles the border of Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram Districts in Kerala and Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari Districts in Tamil Nadu, South India at the southern end of the Western Ghats.
The Biosphere lies Between 8° 8' to 9° 10' North Latitude and 76° 52' to 77° 34' East Longitude. Central location is 8°39'N 77°13'E .The reserve now covers parts of Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari Districts in Tamil Nadu and Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Pathanamthitta Districts in Kerala ABR includes the Indian Ecoregions of South Western Ghats moist deciduous forests, South Western Ghats montane rain forests and Sholai. It is the habitat for 2,000 varieties of medicinal plants, of which at least 50 are rare and endangered species. Rare animals include the tiger, Asian Elephant, and Nilgiri Tahr. Agastyamalai is also home to the Kanikaran, one of the oldest surviving ancient tribes in the world. Ecotourism is popular in the area. The Kanikkarans are the Original tribal Settlers in Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve