Welcome to Kenya National Commision For UNESCO
Kenya National Commision for UNESCOKenya National Commision for UNESCOKenya National Commision for UNESCO
(Mon- Friday)
Harambee Avenue, 16th Floor
Kenya National Commision for UNESCOKenya National Commision for UNESCOKenya National Commision for UNESCO

Biosphere Reserves

  • Home
  • Biosphere Reserves

World Networks of Biosphere Reserves.

Biosphere Reserve IllustrationBiosphere reserves are globally designated and recognized areas by UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme. Biosphere Reserves (BR) are sites established by countries and recognized under UNESCO’s MAB programme to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and scientific data. Biosphere reserves have three primary main roles:
i. promotion and conservation of biodiversity;
ii. advocating for sustainable development and enhancement of ecosystem services by connecting people and nature; and
iii. research and education in different ecosystems.

Biosphere reserves achieve their roles by advocating for interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes resulting from social and ecological systems. It expressly calls for the involvement of local communities and all interested stakeholders in planning and management. Additionally, the sites support mitigation and adaptation to climate change and other aspects of global environmental change.

Biospheres consist of three zones:

1. Core Area

A strictly protected zone that contributes to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species, and genetic variation.
2. Buffer Zone:

This surrounds or adjoins the core area(s) and is used for activities compatible with sound ecological practices that can reinforce scientific research, monitoring, training, and education.
3. Transition Area

This is where communities foster socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable economic and human activities.

Kenya hosts six biosphere reserves namely: Mt. Kenya – Lewa Conservancy; Mt. Kulal, Arabuko-Sokoke; Kiunga; Amboseli; and Mt. Elgon Transboundary Biosphere reserve, that straddles between Kenya and Uganda.

Currently, the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) has 738 biosphere reserves in 134 countries, including 22 transboundary sites. The UNESCO MAB regional network for Africa (AfriMAB), was established in 1996 and covers sub-Saharan Africa. The AfriMAB Network has provided opportunities for information exchange and capacity building across the network.

Biosphere Reserves in Kenya

Kiunga biosphere reserve, designated in 1980, is in the north-eastern part of Kenya’s coastal strip. The ecosystem comprises of sandy beaches, sand dunes, scattered islands, shrublands, mangrove forests, coral reefs and sea-grass beds.
Amboseli Biosphere Reserve, located at the northern footsteps of Mt Kilimanjaro on the Kenyan border side, hosts a variety of ecological zones inclusive of natural dry mountain forest, mountains, savannah rangelands, saline plains, wetlands and fresh-water swamps.
Mt Elgon Transboundary Biosphere Reserve is a protected area located at the border between Kenya and Uganda. Mt Elgon, Kenya and Mt Elgon Uganda were then designated as Biosphere Reserves in 2003 and 2005 respectively.
Mount Kenya Biosphere Reserve was designated in Biosphere Reserve in 1978. The biosphere reserve is an iconic and ecologically diverse landscape that encompasses the iconic Mount Kenya, the highest mountain in Kenya.
Mount Kulal Biosphere Reserve, designated in 1978, is a biodiversity hotspot located northern Kenya, and in the middle of one of the driest regions in East Africa
The Malindi-Watamu-Arabuko-Sokoke Biosphere Reserve located approximately 100 kilometers north of Mombasa is a unique conservation area located in Kenya’s coastal region.
Skip to content