The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has approved the declaration of three new biosphere reserves in Spain: the Valle del Cabriel Biosphere Reserve (Aragón / Castilla-La Mancha / Comunitat) Valenciana), that of the Alto Turia (Castilla-La Mancha / Comunitat Valenciana) and that of La Siberia (Extremadura).

This has been decided by the highest governance body of the Person and Biosphere Program (MaB) of the UNESCO, which has held in Paris the 31st session of the International Coordination Council (CIC), of which Spain is a member.

The declaration of these new reserves of the biosphere implies a national commitment to conservation, biological diversity, traditional use of resources and local customs of each territory, contributing to improve the quality of life of the indigenous populations and the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.

After these three new additions, Spain has a total of 52 reserves of the biosphere, confirming its leadership as the country with the largest number of these protected areas worldwide. The Spanish Network of Biosphere Reserves it already occupies more than six million hectares, which is 12% of the national territory, where about 2 million people live.

The Autonomous National Parks Organization (OAPN), dependent on the Ministry for the Ecological Transition, is responsible for coordinating the activities that constitute the Spanish contribution to the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Program, in the field of conservation of natural and cultural heritage, sustainable development, training and particular of the promotion of the concept of the Biosphere Reserve.

Three new reserves

The new Cabriel Valley Biosphere Reserve covers a total of 421.765 hectares and extends through the territories influenced by the Cabriel River and its tributaries, which reach the communities of Castilla-La Mancha, Aragón and Valencia. With a population of more than 27,000 inhabitants, the livelihood of the region is mostly agriculture, especially wine production, the cultivation of almonds and olives and the planting of cereals.

The Alto Turia covers an area of ​​67,080 hectares and is located at the height of the middle course of the Turia, between Castilla-La Mancha and the Valencian Community. With a population of 4,296 permanent inhabitants and 6,500 seasonal, the area is mainly dedicated to the secondary sector, especially to construction and small industries. The intention of naming it as a reserve is to develop local trade, taking into account products of recognized quality as an example of sustainable development.

Finally, the La Siberia Biosphere Reserve has an area of ​​155,717 hectares and is located northeast of the province of Badajoz, immersed in an important hydrographic network that is formed in the Guadiana basin. This zone presents a great biological diversity and includes extensive plains and forest formations.

The purpose of these three reservations, requested by the inhabitants of each territory, is to contribute to their socio-economic development and be an engine to create jobs, fix the population and fight against the most pressing problems in these areas, such as depopulation.

Together with them, the UNESCO meeting in Paris has declared 17 other reserves worldwide. With these additions, the Biosphere Reserve Network is composed of 726 spaces distributed in 123 countries.

Spain, in particular, has eight islands (seven in the Canary Islands and one in Menorca); eight that contain humid, fluvial or coastal zones and two that shelter arid landscapes. In mountain areas, three are located in high mountain, thirteen in the Cantabrian mountain and another eleven in the middle Mediterranean mountain. The Network is completed with the four transboundary Biosphere Reserves declared in Spain: three with Portugal (Gerés-Xurés, Meseta Ibérica and Tajo-Tejo) and a fourth with Morocco (Intercontinental del Mediterráneo).

Expansions and rezoning of existing reserves

The session also approved the extension of the biosphere reserve of the Upper Basins of the Manzanares, Lozoya and Guadarrama rivers (Community of Madrid), which goes from 46,778 hectares to 105,654. The new surface includes 17 complete municipalities, with a population of 99,228 inhabitants, and land of another ten municipalities, with just over 3,600 inhabitants.

The extension of Menorca Biosphere Reserve (Balearic Islands) has also been expanded, from 71,191 hectares to 514,191.

On the other hand, the rezoning has been approved as Biosphere Reserve of the valleys of Omaña and Luna (Castilla y León) to adapt it to the current autonomic and national regulations, as well as to new protection figures. The reserve conserves its extension, but its core zone goes from 15,754 hectares to 17,553.

Prize 'Michelle Bastisse' for the management of reserves 2019

During the meeting in Paris, UNESCO awarded the "Michelle Batisse 2019" Prize to the president of the Mariñas Coruñesas and Terras do Mandeo Biosphere Reserve, José Antonio Santiso, for the project "Biosphere Reserve 2014 Food Plan -2020 ".

This space has seven products adhered to the brand of "Reserves of the Spanish Biosphere", an initiative of the OAPN to support the socioeconomic fabric of these territories by encouraging the consumption of products of proximity, highlighting their qualities and promoting short marketing circuits .

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