The Isle of Wight UNESCO Biosphere

The whole of the Isle of Wight (including the waters around the Island) is now a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The award was made by the United Nations Man and Biosphere Co-ordinating Council in Paris on the 19th June 2019.

To become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, a region needs to show that people and the natural environment are coexisting harmoniously.

Put simply, the Isle of Wight can demonstrate to the highest level that there is a balanced relationship between people and nature and, that in spite of the modern-day pressures brought about by the progress of human beings, nature continues to thrive here.

 Spectacular and Diverse Coastlines

The Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty  contains some of Britain’s finest landscapes.
The Isle of Wight AONB Partnership worked on the application (on behalf of the British Government) for a period of 3 years, ensuring that the Island is recognised for the way people and nature coexist.

UNESCO Biosphere Reserves are unique areas of environmental significance in which communities strive to work hand in hand, innovatively and responsibly to protect and support the local environment and the world we all live in. The Isle of Wight follows into the footsteps of the North Devon and Isle of Man Biosphere Reserves as England’s third and the UK’s seventh Biosphere Reserve.


Biosphere reserves are ‘Science for Sustainability support sites’ – special places for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity.Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments and remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located. Their status is internationally recognized.There are 686 biosphere reserves in 122 countries, including 20 transboundary sites.The programme recognises areas that:

  • Are typical of the world’s major terrestrial or coastal ecosystems.
  • Demonstrate innovative approaches to living and working in harmony with nature.
  • Demonstrate how to achieve a sustainable balance between conserving natural ecosystems and biodiversity and fostering sound economic development.

Biosphere reserves have three interrelated zones that aim to fulfil three complementary and mutually reinforcing functions:

  • The core area(s) comprises a strictly protected ecosystem that contributes to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation.
  • The buffer zone surrounds or adjoins the core areas and is used for activities compatible with sound ecological practices that can reinforce scientific research, monitoring, training and education.
  • The transition area is the part of the reserve where the greatest activity is allowed, fostering economic and human development that is socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable.