Twenty new sites added to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves



The International Co-ordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) has added 20 new sites to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, bringing their total number to 651 sites, including 15 transboundary sites, in 120 countries. Myanmar had its first biosphere reserve inscribed this year. These additions were made by the Council during a meeting taking place in Paris from 8 to 12 June.


The Man and the Biosphere Programme is an intergovernmental scientific programme set up by UNESCO in the early 1970s with the aim of improving the interaction between people and their natural environment, on a global scale. Biosphere reserves are places for learning about sustainable development aiming to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with the sustainable use of natural resources. New reserves are designated each year by the International Co-ordinating Council of the Programme. The Council brings together representatives of 34 UNESCO Member States, which are elected to that office .



Tang-e-Sayad & Sabzkuh

The Tang-e-Sayad and Sabzkuh biosphere reserve (Islamic Republic of Iran)

The Tang-e-Sayad & Sabzkuh Biosphere Reserve is located in the southeast of Chahar-mahal and Bakhtiari province in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Land subsidence, geological activities and melting ice caps have formed several wetlands in the area inhabited by rare fauna such as the wild cat (Felis silvestris) and lebetine viper (Vipera lebetina). Research shows that 22 fish species, including the Pike barb (Esox niger) and mesopotamian catfish (Silurus triostegus) are found in the Karun River, which runs through the proposed area.


During the cold season bushlands in the area welcome migratory birds such as the white stork (Ciconia ciconia) and greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus).
The presence of several rivers and springs in the proposed site has led to an increase in the development of agriculture and animal husbandry. Local handicrafts such as carpets, felt, dhurrie rugs and folk festivals also offer tourism development potential in the area.

Designation date: 2015
Administrative authorities: Department of Environmental Protection; Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization; Governor’s General Office; Meteorological Organization of the province; Akhtar-Sepehr Company.
Surface area (terrestrial and marine): 532,878 ha
Core area(s): 21,234 ha
Buffer area(s): 241,862 ha
Transition area(s): 269,782 ha

 31°28’43”N – 32°21’56”N
Longitude: 50°22’40”E – 51°19’15”E
Midpoint: 31°54’24”N – 50°50’20”E

Ecological Characteristics

The Tang-e-Sayad and Sabzkuh biosphere reserve (Islamic Republic of Iran)

The main landscape of the reserve is highly distinctive in terms of the height and density of its plant coverage. According to research conducted in the area, every hectare is 180 times more valuable than average land in Iran in terms of richness of plants and wildlife diversity. The region is also mountainous with waterfalls, wetlands and abundant springs, which function as a permanent basin for the Karun River, the biggest river in Iran. 

Various oak species cover the highlands while wild pistachio and almond cover the lower lands. Lote, walnut and pear trees are also scattered about the reserve. Depending on the habitat conditions, oak-mastic and other combinations of other tree or shrub species, such as hackberry, hawthorn and Arjan, exist alone or in groups constituting the forest areas. More than 450 plants species can be found in the reserve.

The variety of ecosystems creates a valuable fauna population. These include 27 mammal species such as the Syrian brown bear (Ursus arctos syriacus) and striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena), 147 bird species including the greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) and white stork (Ciconia ciconia), 26 reptile and amphibian species such as the snake-eyed lizard (Ophisops elegans), and 24 fish species including the mesopotamian catfish (Silurus triostegus). 

The Choghakhor Wetlands were designated a Ramsar Wetland Site.


Socio-Economic Characteristics

The Tang-e-Sayad and Sabzkuh biosphere reserve (Islamic Republic of Iran)

High levels of natural resources have drawn Lor, Turk, Bakhtiari and Arab tribes to the region, some of which have practised nomadic ways of life at various locations in the region of Tang-e-Sayad and Sabzkuh. This has led to the utilization of pastures, agricultural lands and orchards for tribal livelihood activities and contributed to the socio-economic life of populations and villages.

Historical documents indicate that prior to the migration of Aryans and the settlement of Lur tribes in the region, the area was inhabited by nations known as the Kasi and Elamites. Local excavations have discovered remains dating back a minimum of 40,000 years, including items from the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic periods. Other historical remains include castles and other structures built by the Bakhtiari Khans.