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UNESCO: Po Valley, Julian Alps added to World Network of Biosphere Reserves

PARIS, JUNE 19 – Two new Italian sites, the Po Grande Biosphere Reserve and the Julian Alps Biosphere Reserve, have been added today by UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, which now numbers 701 biosphere reserves in 124 countries around the globe.

The International Co-ordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB-ICC) meeting in Paris from 17 to 21 June approved a total of 18 new sites in 12 countries along with the extension of eight existing biosphere reserves, which in most cases also led to a change in their official names.

Po Grande Biosphere Reserve is named after the Po River, which meanders through the site’s mosaic of ecosystems, among them marginal wetlands and oxbow lakes, fluvial islands, riparian forests, meadows, valleys and agricultural land. It covers an area of 286,600 hectares, and its buffer zone includes small islands, settlements and a marine area. Cultural diversity is very high in the Biosphere Reserve, whose establishment is a welcome addition to two recently created Biosphere Reserves along the Po River, Po Delta (2015) and Collina Po (2016). Connecting the three as ‘Po Grande’ is expected to contribute, notably, to the conservation, development and security of integrated water management in the region.

Alpi Giulie foto UNESCO

The Julian Alps Biosphere Reserve covers 71,451 hectare biosphere over three different biogeographic areas: Alpine, Mediterranean and Illyrian, which contributes to its high biodiversity. Its wide-ranging collage of habitats are marked by various degrees of human intervention. It features rocky environments that alternate with forests, high grassland, mowed meadows, pastures, valleys crossed by water courses, and mountains. It is home to a wealth of rare and protected flora and fauna, including bear, lynx, wildcat, chamois, steinbock, deer, marmot, golden eagle, griffon vulture, peregrine falcon. Its forests are predominantly beech (Hacquetio-Fagetum, Dentario-Fagetum, Polysticho-Fagetum) mixed to varying degrees with hornbeam and South European flowering ash (Ostryo-Fagetum) and mugo pine. The biosphere reserve constitutes an important Alpine corridor, notably for large carnivores as well as birds. The area is also a meeting place of the Latin and Slav worlds with millennia of cultural interaction testified by its multitude of dialects, settlement methods, agricultural and artistic practices.

“There is a pressing need to take action for biodiversity, for our shared environmental heritage”, said UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay: “After diagnosing the issue at stake, highlighted by the recent report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the vitality of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves gives us cause for hope. Each UNESCO biosphere reserve is an open sky laboratory for sustainable development, for concrete and lasting solutions, for innovation and good practices. They seal a new alliance between the world of science and youth, between humans and the environment.” (@OnuItalia)

Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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