Participative zoning of the future biosphere reserve
Ensuring the balance between conservation and development
A biosphere reserve is a place for people and nature to co-exist and interact with each other for their mutual benefit. The inhabitants may use the area's natural resources in a sustainable way, and, at the same time, contribute to conserving precious habitats. This is achieved through establishing a zoning system with three categories:
- The core zone, for nature protection,
- The surrounding buffer zone, for conservation and restricted sustainable development, and
- The transition zone, which is used for sustainable agriculture and economic activities such as tourism, etc. It is here where the majority of the inhabitants of the biosphere reserve live. It comprises up to 80% of the total area of the biosphere reserve.
The project’s approach covers the following activities:
- Mapping parts of Blue Nile Basin and creating high-resolution maps for the zoning process using satellite images,
- Identifying biodiversity hotspots for recommendation as core zones,
- Conducting consultations and planning workshops with regional and community level government representatives and carrying out Participatory Rural Appraisals with community members and user groups. This helps to identify the current land use of each community and leads to a definition of zero-use (core), buffer and transition zones that can be accepted by all local communities-
- Gathering data and which was incorporated into the final map showing the zoning of the whole area of the future biosphere reserve. This map was then submitted for the UNESCO nomination.
- Demarcation of the core and buffer zones in the field, and
- Supporting the legal designation of the core zones as national nature reserves to meet UNESCO criteria.