German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


UNESCO "Man and the Biosphere" Programme (1971)

Logo MAB

Man and the Biosphere (MAB)


Worldwide: 686 Biosphere Reserves in 122 countries; in Germany: 16 approved Biosphere Reserves (as of July 2018)


The purpose of the MAB Programme is to make use of natural and social sciences to foster the sustainable use and conservation of biological diversity. Work within the programme takes an approach which gives equal standing beside ecological aspects to economic, social, planning and ethical aspects. The main activity of the international MAB Programme is the establishment of a World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR). These constitute a set of model landscapes for the demonstration of ecologically, economically and socio-culturally sustainable ways of life and patterns of production and consumption, where the goals of the MAB Programme are concretized. UNESCO recognizes biosphere reserves under the terms of the Staturory Framework of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Each biosphere reserve should perform three complementary functions: conservation, development, logistic support.


Decisions within the MAB Programme are taken by an International Coordinating Council (ICC) which meets every two years. At national level, the programme is implemented by MAB National Committees. Within the programme, there are several international networks, with both thematic and regional focuses. Participation in the programme is voluntary, but binding national-level criteria apply to biosphere reserves.

The Seville Strategy of 1995 makes recommendations for developing effective biosphere reserves and determines the specific role of biosphere reserves of developing a new vision on the relationship between environmental protection and development. In 2003 the Madrid Action Plan was agreed. This plan especially deals with the increasing challenges and problems of the 21th century and identifies necessary adaption strategies. The 2011 Dresden Declaration on Biosphere Reserves and Climate Change emphasizes the role of biosphere reserves in efforts on climate mitigation, poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation.


Secretariat of the MAB Programme

7, place de Fontenoy
F-75352 Paris 07 SP
Tel: +33 1 45 68 40 67
Fax: +33 1 45 68 58 04

BfN activities:

BfN Working Group "International Conservation" hosts the secretariat of the German MAB National Committee.

Last Change: 12/02/2019