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Top 10 Biosphere Reserves In India Which Are The Real Guardians of The Natural Habitat

By Yamini Taneja

Updated - Oct. 25, 2019 13 min read

India is the territory of cultural diversity where every religion and culture has its own place and value. In addition to this factor, it is also land for various biosphere reserves. There are many Biosphere Reserves in India which play an important role in protecting the wildlife and the Interest of Tribal Communities. Highlighting the list of the top 10 biosphere reserves in India which not only preserves but add beauty to the mother nature.


1. Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve

The Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve emerged with a vision of protection and preservation of wildlife. It is a non-use conservation area and biosphere reserve in the Satpura Range of Madhya Pradesh state in central India. The conservation area was created in 1999 by the Indian government. UNESCO designated it a biosphere reserve in 2009. The Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve is located within areas of Hoshangabad, Betul, and Chhindwara Districts in Madhya Pradesh state. The highest peak is Dhoopgarh.


The biosphere reserve's total area is 4,926.28 square kilometers (1,217,310 acres) which include three wildlife conservation units within its boundary: Bori Sanctuary (518.00 km2), Pachmarhi Sanctuary (461.37 km2), Satpura National Park (524.37 km2). Satpura National Park is designated as the core zone and the remaining area of 4401.91 km2, including the Bori and Pachmarhi sanctuaries, serves as the buffer zone.


Location: Satpura Range, Madhya Pradesh

Area: 4,926 square kilometer

Fauna: Tigers, Leopard, Wild Boar, Indian Giant Squirrel, Indian Wolf, Chinkara, Nilgai, Chital Deer, Muntjac Deers, Sambar Deer, Bison, and Rhesus Macaques

Flora: Two commercial trees Sal and Teak can be found in abundance. Other endemic flora includes Wild Mango, Jamun, Silver Fern, and Arjun.

Must Visit: The Pandava Caves

Best Time To Visit: October-March


2. Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve

It is the largest reserve amongst all the Biosphere Reserves in India. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is an International Biosphere Reserve in the Western Ghats and Nilgiri Hills ranges of South India. The Nilgiri Sub-Cluster is a part of the Western Ghats, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012. It includes the Aralam, Mudumalai, Mukurthi, Nagarhole, Bandipur, and Silent Valley national parks, as well as the Wayanad and Sathyamangalam wildlife sanctuaries.

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. Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve is India's first and foremost biosphere reserves with a heritage, rich in flora and fauna. Tribal groups like the Todas, Kotas, Irullas, Kurumbas, Paniyas, Adiyans, Edanadan Chettis, Allar, Malayan, etc., are native to the reserve.


Location: The Western Ghats and Nilgiri Hills in South India

Area: 5,520 square kilometre

Fauna: 100 species of mammals, 350 species of birds, 80 species of reptiles including Tiger, Asian elephant Lion-tailed macaque, and Nilgiri Tahr. Nilgiri has the largest population of Lion-tailed macaque and Nilgiri tahr, which are two endangered species

Flora: 3,300 species of flowering plants grow in Nilgiri and out of them, 132 are endemic to this region. Sholas or the local tropical forests hosts most rare plant species.

Must Visit: Ooty Botanical Garden, Tea Estates, Nilgiri Hills, Pykara Lake and Waterfalls

Best Time To Visit: April To August



3. Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve

The Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve encompasses a large part (some 85%) of the island of Great Nicobar, the largest of the Nicobar Islands in the Indian Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Nicobars lie in the Bay of Bengal, eastern Indian Ocean, 190 km to the north of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The Reserve has a total core area of approximately 885 km2, surrounded by a 12 km-wide "forest buffer zone". In the year 2013, it was included in the list of Man and Biosphere program of UNESCO to promote sustainable development based on local community effort and sound science.


The Reserve was declared in January 2013. It incorporates two National parks of India, which were gazetted in 1992: the larger Campbell Bay National Park on the northern part of the island, and Galathea National Park in the southern interior. The non-Biosphere portions of the island (set aside for agriculture, forestry, and settlements) are confined to the southwestern and southeastern coastal reaches. The environment is classified by the World Wide Fund for Nature as Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests biome, and located in the Indomalaya ecozone.


Location: Nicobar Islands

Area: 1,045 square kilometer

Fauna: Crab-Eating Macaque, Nicobar Megapode, Giant Robber Crab, Nicobar Serpent Eagle, Giant Robber Crab, Palm Civet, and Water Monitor Lizards are common in the reserve.

Flora: Screw Pine, Nipa Palm, Ceylon Iron Wood can be found in abundance.

Must Visit: Radhanagar Beach, Baratang Island

Best Time To Visit: January to May, September to December


4. Cold Desert Biosphere Reserve

Primarily known for the preservation of Snow leopard, Cold Desert is the most fascinating one amongst all the Biosphere Reserves in India. located in the western Himalayas region, within Himachal Pradesh state in North India this biosphere reserve is claiming to have over 669 biosphere reserves around the world in over 120 countries


In addition to its spellbinding beauty, it also plays an important role in the history of Buddhism in India. The reserve covers around 7,700 square kilometer vast consisting of Pin Valley National Park, Chandratal, and Sarchu & Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary.


Location: Himalaya Mountains

Area: 7,770 square Kilometres (1,920,000 acres)

Fauna: Woolly Hare, Tibetan Gazzle, Snow Leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, Himalayan Brown Bear, Snow Leopard, Red Fox, Tibetan Wolf, Himalayan Ibex, Himalayan Marmot, Himalayan Blue Sheep, Red Billed Chough, Chukar Patridge, Snow Patridge, Blue Rock Pigeon, Snow Pigeon, Himalayan Snowcock, Lammergeier, Himalayan Griffon, Golden Eagle, Rosefinches

Flora: Aconitum Rotundifolium, Arnebiaeuchroma, Ephedra Gerardiana, Ferula Jaeschkeana, Hyoscymusniger

Must Visit: Trek from Pin Valley to Parvati Valley

Best Time To Visit: Any month because the beauty doesn’t limit itself in certain no. of days.


5. Nanda Devi National Park

Situated amidst the Valley of Flower Nanda Devi National Park (7816 m) is the heart of biosphere reserve located in northern India in Uttarakhand. It is the home of many endangered species like Himalayan Black Bear, Snow Leopard, and Brown Bear and marked as a favorite hotspot among the mountaineers and trekking enthusiast.


Established in 1982, The Nanda Devi National Park or Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve lies at an elevation of more than 3,500 m (11,500 ft) above mean sea level. The National Park has inscribed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. The latter was expanded and renamed to Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks in 2005.


Location: Northeast of Uttarakhand. The Nanda Devi Bio-reserve is also designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Area: 630 square kilometer

Fauna: Himalayan musk deer, Mainland serow and Himalayan Tahr. The reserve is also known to host Snow Leopards, Himalayan Black Bear and Brown Bear, Langurs and Rhesus Macaque

Flora: Fir, birch, rhododendron, and juniper are abundant here. Vegetation is scarce due to the dry, frosty environment.

Must Visit: Trek can help you to discover all the attraction of Nanda Devi National Park starting from the river to holiest shrines in India.

Best Time To Visit: May To October



6. Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve

The significant biosphere reserve which is shared by two states- Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh covering a total area of 383,551 hectares (3835.51 km2). It preserves the natures best Flora and Fauna and source of the three major river systems The Narmada, Johilla and The Son River


The reserve is located in the northern part of Bio-Geographic zone 6 and Bio-Geographic province 6 A (Deccan peninsula and Central Highlands). About 68.1% of this reserve lies in the Bilaspur district in Chhattisgarh. The other major portions of the reserve are in the Anuppur (16.20%) and Dindori (15.70%) districts of Madhya Pradesh. The protected area of the Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Bilaspur district within the Biosphere Reserve.


Location: Chhattisgarh and Madha Pradesh

Area: 383,550 hectares

Fauna: Tigers, Panthers, Bears, Chital Deer, Sambar Deer, Barking Deer, Foxes, Wild Boar, Jackals, and Bison can be found in the biosphere. The area is also famous for hosting different species of frogs including Cricket Frog, Burrowing Frog, Tree Frog, Ornate Narrow Mouthed Frog, Toad and Bullfrog

Flora: Pine, Juniper, Cedar, and Cypress can be found here. Some of the species of Pine and Cedar are endemic to the reserve.

Must Visit: Ancient Temple of Kalachuri, The Dudh Dhara Falls, Narmada Udgam Temple

Best Time To Visit: November To June


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7. Gulf Of Mannar

The large shallow gulf formed into the Laccadive Sea, the Indian Ocean that lies in the southeastern part of India and west coast of Sri Lanka Is known as Gulf of Mannar. Located on the southeastern tip of the subcontinent, the Gulf of Mannar is known to harbor 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. However, the combined effects of 47 villages, with a total population of around 50,000 has meant that overharvesting of marine species has become a problem.


The beauty lies in the pearl bank of Mannar which is the foremost source of income for people for more than 2,000 years. In 1986, a group of 21 islets lying off the Tamil Nadu coast between Thoothukudi and Dhanushkodi was declared the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park. The park and its 10 km buffer zone were declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1989.


Location: Between India and Sri Lanka, forming part of the Laccadive Sea

Area: 32,400 square kilometer

Fauna: Sea turtles, Sharks, Dugongs, Dolphins, Whales. Pearl Oysters, Gorgorian Corals are also frequent in the reserve

Flora: Sea Grass, Sea Weed, Sea Cucumber.

Must Visit: Dhanushkodi, Mannar Island

Best Time To Visit: October To March


8. AgasthyaMalai Biosphere Reserve

India's Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve is a unique site that is located in the Western Ghats in the Southern part of India. The Biosphere Reserve has exorbitant peaks that reach up to 1,868 meters above the sea level and consists mostly of tropical forests that are home to about 2,254 species of plants (out of which 400 are endemic).


The Biosphere Reserve acts as a unique genetic reservoir for cultivated plants, like- Cardamom, Jamune, Nutmeg, Pepper and Plantain. The Agasthyamalai Biosphere also holds some major wildlife sanctuaries, namely- Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary, Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary, Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary and Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. The Biosphere reserve is also inhabited by many tribal settlements, amounting up to a total population of 3,000. These communities rely majorly on the biological resources for their survival.


Location: Western Ghats in the Southern part of India

Area: 3,500 square kilometer

Fauna: This Biosphere Reserve hosts about 79 species of mammals (out of which 20 species are endemic), 88 species of reptiles (out of which 45 species are endemic), 45 species of amphibians (out of which 30 species are endemic), 46 species of fishes (out of which 10 species are endemic) and 337 species of birds (out of which 20 species are endemic). Some of the rare animals found here are Tiger, Ancient Elephant, and Nilgiri Tahr.

Flora: Apart from inhibiting 2,000 varieties of medicinal plants and about 50 rare and endangered species, Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve includes the Indian Ecoregions of South Western Ghats moist deciduous forests, South Western Ghats montane rain forests and Shola. It is home to about 400 Red Listed Plants and over 125 species of orchids and rare, endemic and threatened plant species. Almost one-fourth of India's total plant species are found here. Arogyapacha, one such famous and rare medicinal plant is found here.

Must Visit: Museum, The Temple of AgasthyaMalai

Best Time To Visit: November To March


9. Nokrek National Park

Nokrek National Park is located in the North-Eastern Belt of Meghalaya. This reserve is the shelter of many Asian Elephants and a multitude number of tigers. In addition to its wildlife reserve, this biosphere is also the spotlight of the Red Panda’s which are often seen here. Surprisingly the national park has actually preserved the existence of Red Panda


Nokrek National Park, the core area of Nokrek Biosphere Reserve, is a national park located approximately 2 km from Tura Peak in West Garo Hills district of Meghalaya, India. UNESCO added this National park to its list of Biosphere Reserves in May 2009. Along with Balphakram national park, Nokrek is a hotspot of biodiversity in Meghalaya.


Location: West Garo Hills, Meghalaya

Area: 47.5 square Kilometer

Fauna: A large population of Red Panda can be found in the reserve. Other mammals include Hoolocks, Stump-tailed Macaque, Flying Squirrel, Leopard, and Pig-tailed Macaque

Flora: Grand rasamala, White Meranti, Lali, Chempaka, Wild lemon are some of the endemic plants. The reserve is mainly famous for its wide vegetation of citrus plants such as lemons, oranges, and lime.

Must Visit: Rongband Dare Waterfalls, The Balpakram National Park

Best Time To Visit: October To May


10. Sunderbans

The last but not the least! Sunderbans - one of the famous biosphere reserve in India. It captures around 10,000 square kilometers and is the largest reserve for Bengal Tiger. Due to its unique ecological and biological conditions, many rare and exclusive species of plants and animals have been preserved here.

The Sundarban forest lies in the vast delta on the Bay of Bengal formed by the super confluence of the Ganges, Hooghly, Padma, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers across southern Bangladesh. The seasonally flooded Sundarbans freshwater swamp forests lie inland from the mangrove forests on the coastal fringe. The forest covers 10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi) of which about 6,000 km2 (2,300 sq mi) are in Bangladesh. It became inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997. The Indian part of Sundarbans is estimated to be about 4,110 km2 (1,590 sq mi), of which about 1,700 km2 (660 sq mi) is occupied by waterbodies in the forms of the river, canals and creeks of width varying from a few meters to several kilometers.


Location: Estuaries of River Ganges and River Brahmaputra. The reserve is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, as it is the largest mangrove forest area in the world

Area: 139,500 hectares

Fauna: The reserve is famous as the breeding ground of the Royal Bengal Tiger. Spotted deer, Rhesus Macaque, Salt Water Crocodile, and Giant Adjutant Storks are some other attractions

Flora: World's largest mangrove forest hosts several endemic species of plants such as Garjan, Gewa, Goran, Keora and Sundari trees. The name Sundarbans refers to the abundance of Sundari trees in the area.

Must Visit: Main Temple of Bonbibi 

Best Time To Visit: September To March



Q- How many Biosphere Reserves are there in India?
A- 18 Biosphere Reserves are there in India.

Q-Why has UNESCO created Biosphere reserve?
A-For the protected of wildlife and the Interest of Tribal Communities. 

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