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What is a Biosphere Reserve?

Biosphere Reserves are designed to meet one of the most difficult challenges the world is facing as it move towards the 21st century:  how to maintain and conserve the diversity of plants, animals and micro-organisms which make up our living "biosphere" while at the same time meet the material needs of an increasing population.  In other words, biosphere reserves examine how to reconcile conservation of biological resources with their sustainable use.   

Its Purpose

Each Biosphere Reserve is intended to fulfill three basic functions, including:

1)      conservation of important biological resources;

2)      development of environmentally sound economic growth; and

3)      support for research, monitoring, education, and information exchange related to conservation issues. 

To carry out these activities, biosphere reserves are organized into three interrelated zones, known as the core area, the zone of cooperation, and the transition area.

The core area is legally protected from activity which would adversely affect its natural features. This area could be used for such activities as hiking, bird watching, educational field trips, scientific research and monitoring of plant and animal life. The zone of cooperation is an "adjacent managed use area" that might be used for lumbering, grazing, and fishing activities, settlements, recreational facilities etc., managed to benefit local residents and the local environment.  The transition zone is the larger region in which local residents, cultural groups, economic interests, scientists, or managing agencies work together to link conservation and economic development guided by the cultural values of the local community.

In the Mammoth Cave Area International Biosphere Reserve,

·         the core area is Mammoth Cave National Park (52,830 acres);

·         the zone of cooperation is 94,365 acres to the immediate north and south of the park;

·         the transition zone is 762,133 acres in Edmonson, Hart, Barren, Metcalfe, Warren, and Butler Counties.