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Biosphere Reserves in Northeast India States | North East India Info

Biosphere Reserves are natural and cultural landscapes extending over large areas of terrestrial or coastal/marine ecosystems or a combination thereof and are special environments for both people and nature. They are living examples of how human beings and nature can co-exist while respecting each other’s needs.

The Indian government has established 18 biosphere reserves in India. Out of 18 biospheres reserve, 5 biosphere reserve found in Northeast Indian states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Sikkim respectively. 

Khangchendzonga National Park

Total Biosphere Reserves in Northeast Indian States

Sl No

Biosphere Reserve

Area (in km2)

Date of Notification


Location(State) and

Bio-Geographic Zones





Part of Garo Hills district- East Himalayas, Meghalaya





Part of Kokrajhar,

Bongaigaon, Barpeta,

Nalbari, Kamrup and Darang

district (Assam)-

East Himalaya





Part of Dibrugarh and

Tinsukia districts (Assam)-

East Himalayas





Part of Siang and Debang

Valley in (Arunachal Pradesh)- East Himalaya





Part of North and West Sikkim, Sikkim

Source- World Network of Biosphere Reserve(NAB-UNESCO)

What are Biosphere Reserves?

According to UNESCO, Biosphere reserves are ‘learning places for sustainable development’. They are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity. They are places that provide local solutions to global challenges. Biosphere reserves include terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each site promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.

Biosphere Reserves Main Zones

Core Areas

It comprises a strictly protected zone that contributes to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation

Buffer Zones

It 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.

Transition Area

The transition area is where communities foster socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable economic and human activities.

Zones of Biosphere Reserved

Main Characteristics of Biosphere Reserves

  • Achieving the three interconnected functions: conservation, development and logistic support;
  • Outpacing  traditional confined conservation zones, through appropriate zoning schemes combining core protected areas with zones where sustainable development is fostered by local dwellers and enterprises with often highly innovative and participative governance systems;
  • Focusing on a multi-stakeholder approach with particular emphasis on the involvement of local communities in management;
  • Fostering dialogue for conflict resolution of natural resource use;
  • Integrating cultural and biological diversity, especially the role of traditional knowledge in ecosystem management;
  • Demonstrating sound sustainable development practices and policies based on research and monitoring;
  • Acting as sites of excellence for education and training;
  • Participating in the World Network.

Biosphere Reserved in Assam

Manas National Park and Biosphere Reserve:

Manas National Park is also a Biosphere Reserve and forms a contiguous linear belt along the foot of Himalayas. The floral diversity includes 543 plant species. 

The faunal diversity is represented by 60 mammalian species, 42 species of reptiles, 7 species of amphibians, 5 fish species, 103 invertebrate species and 327 species of birds. Translocation of rhinos from Pobitora and Manas is being undertaken in stages to reintroduce rhinos in Manas.

Dibru-Saikhowa Biosphere Reserve:

Dibru-Saikhowa Biosphere Reserve includes Dibru-Saikhowa Wildlife Sanctuary and biogeographically exhibits the properties of both the Indian and Malayan sub-regions. It consists of a number of “ecotones” between floral communities of riparian and grassland habitats as well as deciduous forest and wet evergreen forest types. 

This biosphere reserve is home to many important faunal species including white wing wood duck, hoolock gibbon, wild buffalo, several species of turtles, Gangetic dolphin, golden mahseer, etc. The documented animal population includes 3 species of amphibians, 22 species of reptiles, 25 species of birds, 25 species of mammals, 62 species of fishes, etc. This biosphere reserve is also home to a number of feral horses.

Biosphere reserved in Arunachal Pradesh

Dihang Dibang Biosphere Reserve

The Biosphere Reserve constitutes an area of 5112 sq. Km in the district of West Siang, Upper Siang and Dibang valley of Arunachal Pradesh. An area of 4095 Sq.Km constitutes the core zone of the BR and 1017 Sq. Km makes the buffer zone. Due to the steep terrain combined with difficult weather as well as the lack of communication, the area has a very sparse human population. 

The approximately 10,000 people who live here are primarily of the Adi, Buddhist and Mishmi tribes with ten sub-tribes including the Paris, Padams, Karkos, Pangis, Simongs, Ashings, Tangams, Komkars, Millangs, Dalbings, Membas, Khambas and Idu Mishmis. The Biosphere Reserve area is almost totally under the cover of vegetation with villages and cultivations located on lower slopes and terraces edging the major river systems.

The vegetation varies according to habitat. Various factors like climatic, edaphic and biotic factors attribute the condition of forming such habitat. The BR has an altitudinal range from 500 to 6000 meters and a major factor in determining the plant community. The type of vegetation can be grouped as 1. Sub-tropical broad-leafed forests. 2. Sub-tropical pine forest. 3. Temperate broad-leaved forests. 4. Temperate conifer. 5. Sub-alpine woody shrub. 6. Alpine meadow (Mountain tundra) 7. Bamboo brakes. 8. Grasslands.

This bio-reserve is very rich and diverse in the population of animals. Some of the species here are endemic to the eastern Himalayas, many of these as well as others are listed as endangered. Some of the species as recorded are insects of 45 species including moths and butterflies were documented Hill trout have been observed among the fishes. There is an impressive array of forest frogs. 

It is noticed that a wonderful chorus of frogs at some part of the bio-reserve forests breaks out just after the dark, often with four or more species calling at the same time. Snakes are present there, mostly non-poisonous except the poisonous green pit vipers (Trimeresurus), cobras (Naja and Ophiophagus) and kraits (Bungarus). 

The Indians rock python is also known. About 195 species of birds had been recorded. Of these, the scatter’s Monal and Blyth’s Tragopan are among the most interesting. These beautiful pheasants live in a limited range of the eastern Himalayas and are very much threatened. 

Temminck’s tragopan is also found in this region but no data on this bird is available from the Indian sub-continent. The pale-capped pigeon a globally threatened spp is recorded in this area. Other species, considered rare in parts of the Himalayas, have been found to be comparatively common here. These include the Purple cochoa, Nepal cutia, and Pale Blue Flycatcher. 

The wedged billed wren babbler family (Timaliidac), has been seen here. Some more interesting observation has been making and these include the water pipit, Japanese Bush warbler, Isabeline wheatear, Black faced, chest nut earned and pine buntings. In addition there is a possible sighting of the Rufous tailed babbler, crysomma poecilvtis, a species new to the Indian subcontinent.

Biosphere reserved in Meghalaya

Nokrek National Park and Biosphere Reserve

Nokrek Biosphere Reserve is the First Biosphere Reserve in North-East India to be designated for inclusion in the World Network of Biosphere Reserve of Man and the Biosphere Programme, UNESCO on 26-05-2009. Nokrek Biosphere Reserve is a rich gene pool of citrus species, especially the Citrus indica Tanaka and other related cultivars. Apart from several other species of wild animals such as - Himalayan Black Bear, Slow Loris, Guar, Clouded Leopard etc.

The Nokrek National Park and Biosphere Reserve is about 45 km from Tura. Nokrek is the highest peak in Garo Hills and home to different species of wild animals including Elephants and Hoolock Gibbons.

The Nokrek National Park has been established at Nokrek and it abounds in various wildlife including herds of wild elephants, rare varieties of birds and pheasants, besides rare orchids. The park is also home to a very rare species of citrus-indica endemic to this place which the locals call memang narang ('orange of the spirits'). Nokrek is also believed to be the home of Mande Burung (jungle man or ape-man) and reported cases of sightings abound in and around the villages of Nokrek.

Biosphere reserved in Sikkim

Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve

The Khangchendzonga National Park is a part of Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve. Spread across an area of 1784 sq km, the Khangchendzonga National Park is the largest wildlife reserve in Sikkim.

The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve complex situated in North and West Sikkim districts is the biggest IBA in Sikkim, occupying nearly 40% of the State. It lies entirely along the Sikkim-Nepal border and includes the Khangchendzonga Range from the South Lhonak Glacier in trans-Himalayan Sikkim down to Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary in the South Sikkim. This IBA stretches eastwards up to Tsungthang in North Sikkim with the Tista river flowing south from the Tso Lhamo cold desert forming its eastern boundary for most part.

The area is a spectacular wilderness, with snowy peaks towering above some fine forests that remain virtually undisturbed. The Park must rank as one of the most important protected areas in the entire Himalayas. Khangchendzonga is considered to be the finest example of an independent mountain having its own glacial system radiating from its several summits.

Due to the size and altitude elevations in this IBA, birds recorded are from at least four biomes. Thus this IBA has at least 127 bird species of conservation concern including seven globally threatened and restricted range species, 24 species of Biome-5, 67 of Biome-7, 26 of Biome-8 and three listed in Biome-9.

Birds like Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni have been recorded from northern Trans-Himalayan part of the IBA while Baer’s Pochard Aythya baeri has been sighted in Lake Khecheopalri along with wintering Mergansers Mergus merganser and Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis, Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Common Teal Anas crecca and Tufted Pochard Aythya fuligula.

The fauna includes the Snow leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda, Barking deer.  Many other species found on the Tibetan plateau such as Tibetan Wild Ass Equus hemionus kiang and some found east of the Tista river such as Takin Budorcas taxicolor, could be found here.Around 19 mammals protected under Schedule-I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 including Bharal Pseudois nayaur, Himalayan Tahr Hemitragus jemlahicus, Tibetan Wolf Canis lupus, Python Python molurus, beetles and butterflies, also protected species, are reported.

Image Courtesy

Spattadar / CC BY-SA

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