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Living Planet

Uniting Man and Nature

Humans must live together in harmony with nature. Under the auspices of the UNESCO program "Man and the Biosphere," reserves are created for scientific interests.

Nature parks and reserves are often regarded as lifeboats for the planet’s dwindling animal and plant species. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched its own park concept in 1970: the “Man and the Biosphere” (MAB) program. Today, biosphere reserves exist in 97 countries.

Human development is an important part of the UNESCO biosphere concept. The reserves are designed to protect nature and, at the same time, allow human beings to live within the park limits and use the land in a controlled and sustainable fashion. Even intensive agriculture and industry are permitted in certain areas.

Biosphere reserves also serve scientific interests. Data collected by scientists can offer insight into global warming and the greenhouse effect, or into the way species evolve if left untouched. Because of this purpose, they are sometimes termed “living laboratories.” Biosphere reserves also have an educational aspect, since they function as role models for other reserves and often provide learning facilities, such as information centers.

DW-RADIO looks at some of the most interesting biosphere reserves in Germany in a special series produced in co-operation with UNESCO and the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation.

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