Sikkim’s Khangchendzonga biosphere reserve added to UNESCO list

India’s Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve, one of the highest ecosystems in the world, has been added to UNESCO's list of World Network of Biosphere Reserve (WNBR).

According to a statement issued by the Union Environment Ministry, the International Coordinating Council (ICC) of Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme, UNESCO, had designated Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve for inclusion in the World Network of Biosphere Reserve in its 30th session, which was held from July 23-27, 2018 at Palembang, Indonesia.

Key Highlights

The Khangchendzonga reserve will be India's 11th internationally designated WNBR.

The reserve includes a range of ecoclines varying from subtropical to arctic, as well as vast natural forests in different biomes that support an immensely rich diversity of forest types and habitats resulting in high species diversity and endemism.

With its inclusion in the WNBR list, the reserve joins other Indian biospheres such as Nandadevi, Simlipal, Sunderbans, and Nilgiri.

In total, India has 18 biosphere reserves, among which 11 have been internationally designated WNBR.

The remaining seven are domestic designated biosphere reserves and the Indian government is trying for their inclusion in the list as well.

About Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve

Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve is a National Park and a Biosphere Reserve located in Sikkim, India.

The park is named after the mountain Kangchenjunga, which with a height of 8,586 metres (28,169 ft), is the third-highest peak in the world.


The Biosphere Reserve is one of the highest ecosystems in the world, reaching elevations of 1, 220 metres above sea-level.

It includes a range of ecolines, varying from sub-tropic to Arctic, as well as natural forests in different biomes, which support an immensely rich diversity of forest types and habitats.

The flora here includes temperate broadleaf, oaks, fir birch, maple and willow.

It also has some 550 bird species including the Tibetan snowcock, blood pheasant, osprey, satyr tragopan, Himalayan griffon, lammergeier, green pigeon, Tibetan snowcock, snow pigeon and Asian emerald cuckoo.



Core Area

The core area of the Biosphere Reserve is a major transboundary Wildlife Protected Area.

The southern and central landscape, which makes up 86 per cent of the core area, is situated in the Greater Himalayas, while the northern part of the area which accounts for 14 per cent is characterised by trans-Himalayan features.

Buffer zones are being developed to promote e-Plantation and eco-tourism activities and for plantation of medicinal herbs and soil conservation measures

Other Details

The core zone – Khangchendzonga National Park was designated as a World Heritage Site in 2016 under the 'mixed' category.

The core zone of the biosphere alone has over 150 glaciers and 73 glacial lakes with the most prominent one being the famous 26-km-long Zemu glacier.

It is home to a number of globally threatened fauna including musk deer, snow leopard, red panda and Himalayan Tahr and many ethnic communities including Lepcha, Nepalese, and Bhutia.

Many of the mountains, peaks, lakes, caves, rocks, stupas and hot springs in the reserve function as pilgrimage sites.


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