Historical Docs
News Bulletin
What is MAB
Related Links

The MAB Program United States of America

Mule Ears Peak, Big Bend Nationa Park. Photo by A. Babulescu.

Background - MAB United States of America

The Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB) was established at the 1970 General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), for the purpose of addressing the economic, educational, scientific, cultural and recreational needs of humankind.  The MAB program is an interdisciplinary effort between the social and natural sciences that seeks to improve the relationship between people and their environment by supporting the sustainable use and conservation of biological diversity, and promoting the study of the interrelationships of the human and natural systems of the Earth.  As an intergovernmental program, MAB presents an opportunity for international cooperation and a focus for the coordination of related programs aimed at improving the management of natural resources and the environment.  US MAB is part of the worldwide MAB effort.

Spruce-western hemlock and Douglas-fir forest of the Cascade Head Biosphere Reserve along the Oregon Coast Range.

A unique component of the MAB program are the Biosphere Reserves, where the principles of MAB are achieved in these living laboratories for learning and demonstrating sustainable management successes.  In 1974, the Biosphere Reserve program attracted worldwide attention when the United States and the Soviet Union agreed at a summit in Moscow to support the MAB program, and specifically to designate natural areas as Biosphere Reserves.  In that same year the US Department of State established a US National Committee for the MAB Program, composed of representatives from supporting federal agencies and state and private institutions, to guide the development of national education, research, and training activities. 

In 1996 a misinformed but well-organized campaign alleged that Biosphere Reserves (and World Heritage sites) were part of a UN experiment to take control of public and private lands in the US.  Although the Congressional Research Service found the allegations to be false in a report issued the same year, the result was reduced political and financial support for MAB, and the termination of Channel Island Biosphere Reserve, along the California Coast.many reserve activities.  After years of dormancy, the United States rejoined UNESCO in 2003, initiating the renewal of the Biosphere Reserve program.  This renewal included preparations for collaborative efforts with Canada and Mexico and the incorporation of a US Biosphere Reserve Association, whose duties include assisting in the planning and development of the national program. [http://www.samab.org/About/USBRA/usbra.html].  In 2004, the US MAB National Committee began the process of reconstituting and establishing a new vision for US MAB, including a workshop held in May that explored ways to rejuvenate the program and provide support to the 47 Biosphere Reserves in the US MAB program.




Last updated: 06/27/2005

Comments on this page?

This website is hosted and maintained by the USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Flagstaff Lab, Project 4302