World Biosphere Reserves - Madeira and Porto Santo

The municipality of Santana, located on the northern side of the island of Madeira, was honoured by UNESCO in June 2011 with the distinction of “Biosphere Reserve”, recognizing the richness of an ecosystem where the conservation of biodiversity and its sustainable use are brought together.

This reserve includes a land component, corresponding to the entire surface of the municipality above sea level and still a marine component, which presents a wide variety of natural and unique human, landscape, environmental and cultural values of local, regional, national and international interest.

In 2020, Porto Santo Island  also integrated the UNESCO's World Biosphere Reserve Network, totalling 27 310 hectares of protected areas as well as Natura 2000 Network areas.
With more than 2110 species, some exclusive to the island, ecosystems, natural and built landscapes, considered to be unique, the application by the golden island fits within the guidelines of the “Man and the Biosphere (MaB) Programme”.

In Portugal there are twelve Biosphere Reserves of the utmost importance, namely:

• Paul do Boquilobo Reserve (1981)
• Gerês Cross-Border Reserve (2009)
• Berlengas Archipelago Reserve  – Peniche (2011)
• Meseta Ibérica Reserve - Portugal/Spain (2015)
• Tagus International Cross-Border Reserve  - Portugal/Spain (2017)
• Castro Verde Reserve (2017)
• Santana Reserve - Madeira (2011)
• Porto Santo Island Reserve - Madeira (2020)
• Corvo Island Reserve - Azores (2007)
• Graciosa Island Reserve - Azores (2007)
• Flores Island Reserve - Azores (2009)
• Fajãs de S. Jorge Reserve - Azores (2016)


Within the international context, and according to data from UNESCO - United Nations, Educational, Science and Cultural Organisation, there are about 714 Biosphere Reserves spread across 129 countries.

Among some of the nominated biosphere reserves highlight goes to:
• Mont Saint Hilaire (Canada)
•  Mont-Viso (France)
• Mount Olympus (Greece)

Biosphere Reserves are defined by UNESCO as “living laboratories, where the main functions are the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems and species, as well as the sustainable development at social, economic, cultural and ecological levels, acting as platforms for research, monitoring , education and awareness ”.
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