Q: What are Biosphere Reserve, Man & Biosphere Reserve, Wildlife Sanctuary and National park, the differences between them and their main purpose?

Asked by Tharun

Answer from Praveen Bhargav, Managing Trustee, Wildlife First:

Sanctuaries and National Parks are areas of significant ecological, floral, faunal or natural significance. They are notified by State Governments and protected by the Forest Department under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Hunting of wild animals, encroachment and/or destruction of habitat, construction of tourist lodges and such other activities are prohibited.

While most of the legal provisions are common for Sanctuaries and National Parks, there are three key differences:

  • All rights of people within a National Park have to be settled while in a Sanctuary certain rights can be allowed
  • Livestock grazing is prohibited in a National Park but can be allowed in a regulated manner in Sanctuaries
  • A Sanctuary can up upgraded to a National Park but a National Park cannot be downgraded as a Sanctuary

The concept of Biosphere Reserves was first mooted by UNESCO under the Man & Biosphere program (MAB). Currently there are eight Biosphere Reserves under the MAB program which includes many National Parks and Sanctuaries.

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