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Becoming a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the accreditation process

16 December 2020 – London, UK

Last Updated: Dec.2020

Accreditation type: Biosphere Reserve

This is a rolling application. Make sure you read the information on this page before you apply, and check you fit the requirements.

? Why Apply?

About Biospheres



Find out what are UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, what they can bring to you, and read from our network.

Biosphere reserves promote solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They are learning areas for sustainable development under diverse ecological, social and economic contexts, touching the lives of more than 250 million people.

There are currently 714 biosphere reserves in 129  countries, including 21 transboundary sites, that belong to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. 

The UK National Commission for UNESCO works closely with the UK Committee for Man and the Biosphere (UK MAB) in the nomination of new Biosphere Reserves in the UK. All organisations wishing to apply to become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve must submit their application through the UK MAB Committee. Information on the UK process, including deadlines for the ongoing application cycle, is available in the sections below and on the UK MAB Committee website:

? The Process

Step n°1: Contact

Make sure you get in touch with the UK National Commission for UNESCO first regarding your application.

Any area within the UK that has an interest in becoming a UNESCO Biopshere Reserve is encouraged to engage in open dialogue with the UK National Commission for UNESCO and the UK MAB Committee. 

Where there is a clear joined-up partnership interest in an area, a maximum of two representatives will be invited to attend the open session of the UK MAB committee annual meeting to present their ideas and learn more about the network and the application process.

Step n°2: Expression of Interest

Submit your expression of interested to the UK National Commission for UNESCO for us to review it.

Ahead of any formal applications, aspirant UNESCO Biosphere Reserves should submit an expression of interest to the UK MAB Committee.

Step n°3: Application

We will help you put together your application.

Draft full application dossiers should be submitted to the UNESCO UK MAB Committee for consideration. Aspirant Biospheres are encouraged to submit applications in time for discussion during the closed session of the annual meeting. 

You can read more about the application process and forms on the UNESCO website here

It is strongly recommended that any area intending to submit an application should engage in an on-site assessment by a minimum of one, but ideally two members of the UK MAB Committee. This should take at least three months prior to the submission of the documents to the UK Committee to allow for an accurate assessment of the territory’s application. 

Step n°4: Review

The UK National Commission for UNESCO is responsible for putting together review committees.

Following review, the Committee will decide what stage the application is at and if it is ready to be formally recommended to us for onward support and submission to UNESCO. 

The four possible outcomes of the review of the UNESCO MAB Committee review of draft applications are:


Deemed inappropriate and rejected as being ineligible Biosphere Reserve membership


Deemed to have potential but that further work is needed before submission can be approved, in which case feedback and further support and advice will be given. A mentor can be appointed if appropriate.


Deemed to have met the requirements for submission to us for our support prior to formal submission to UNESCO. However, in advance of submission recommended further revisions may be made to add strength and clarity to the application.


Deemed to have met the requirements for submission for UK MAB support prior to formal submission to UNESCO.

Step n°5: Submission to UNESCO

If successful, your application will be submitted to UNESCO for consideration. The usual deadline is the 30th of September of the year N. Following submission, there is a three month period for additional inputs if requested

Step n°6: Examination by the IACBR-recommendations

Step n°7: Review by the Bureau of the MAB ICC

The meeting for the nomination is held before MAB ICC meeting

Step n°8: Endorsement of the nomination by MAB-ICC

The meeting is held once a year (May, June, July). You will be informed of the outcome.

?   This is a rolling application. Begin your application today*

Key Information

Make sure you read the important information below before you apply to become a UNESCO Biosphere. You must apply through the UK Man and the Biosphere Committee, but you can submit an Expression of Interest via the UK National Commission for UNESCO.

STATUS:   Ongoing

UK DEADLINE:   Ongoing

FOR WHO:   UK Organisations



?  *This accreditation is currently open for application. If you have any questions, get in touch with the UK National Commission for UNESCO via our contact form

Begin your application

Make sure you have checked you are eligible for this accreditation before applying. Get in touch with us if you have any questions, or visit our FAQ

Submit your #Expression of Interest     

Accreditation type: Biosphere Reserve

Begin your application to become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

Submit your #Expression of Interest