UNESCO Declares Baa Atoll a Biosphere Reserve
Maldives Promotion House – The UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves covers internationally-designated protected areas, known as biosphere reserves, that are meant to demonstrate a balanced relationship between humans and nature and encourages sustainable development.
Baa atoll has been known for its natural beauty and thriving marine ecosystems. In order to protect the area for future generations, last year September, Ministry of Housing and Environment requested from UNESCO to declare Baa Atoll as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Baa Atoll is an administrative division of the Maldives consisting of three separate natural atolls, namely southern Maalhosmadulu Atoll, the Fasdūtherē Atoll and the smaller natural atoll known as Goifulhafehendhu Atoll.
Maalhosmadulu Atoll is famed for its rich biodiversity that includes large mangroves and a unique diversity of fauna. Furthermore, the ring-shaped reef forms are a reef structure which is unique to the Maldives.
Hanifaru Bay is considered one the few places in the world where whale sharks congregate in to mate. The bay is however home to some of the largest gatherings of Manta rays worldwide with up to one hundred individuals in the small inlet when the tide pushes plankton into the bay.
During the 23rd session of the MAB-ICC held from 28th June to 1st July 2011, in Dresden, Germany, UNESCO announced that the area meets the requirements to be declared as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and declared Baa Atoll as a Biosphere reserve.
The session was attended by Minister of Housing and Environment Mohamed Aslam where he said that it is a great pride for Maldives and especially the people of Baa Atoll to be declared as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
He also noted that the government would closely work with the residents of Baa Atoll and all relevant authorities to make use of this opportunity.
To date, total membership has reached 564 biosphere reserves in 109 countries occurring in all regions of the world. This already takes into account some biosphere reserves that have been withdrawn or revised through the years, as the program’s focus has shifted from simple protection of nature to areas displaying close interaction between humans and the environment.