Mediterranean Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve – UNESCO Reserve
To establish a biosphere reserve that spans over two countries is certainly an enormous undertaking. Through UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program the establishment of the Mediterranean Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve in 2006 was made possible. The two counties, Morocco and Spain, both share a similar cultural history and have ecological and geological similarities. Biosphere reserves that are under the Man and the Biosphere Program are located in areas where the communities that live in these regions play a vital role in the goals of the biosphere reserves.
As in the case of the Mediterranean Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve, communities from both Spain and Morocco are dedicated to the education of the public, research of the different species in the biosphere, promoting development in biodiversity conservation and supporting socio-economic growth. Communities are also involved in training, management and the monitoring of the reserve. Trans-boundary reserves are difficult to maintain without the assistance and loyal services received from the communities.
Biosphere Reserves often have national parks created within their boundaries, as most reserves cover urban, agricultural and conservation areas. Both countries have their own parks to preserve and protect from exploitation from humans. The national parks on the Spanish side of the Mediterranean Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve include Del Estrecho, Sierra de las Neive, Los Alcornocales and Sierra de Grazalema. The national parks in Morocco that are included in the reserve are the Talassemtane National Park and sites such as Koudiet Taifour, Lagune de Smir, Jbel Bouhachem and Jbel Moussa.
Many of the provinces in Morocco, have biosphere reserves, but the Mediterranean Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve is the first of its kind in the Mediterranean. The biosphere reserves and national parks in Morocco do not only assist greatly in the conservation of habitats and species but bring attention and tourism to many rural communities and this helps build a biological culture. Many communities feel a sense of pride and self worth by being included into such a large and important project. They work continuously and selflessly to protect and to maintain the beautiful forests of Morocco. Together, UNESCO, Spain and Morocco have secured a future for nature and for the many people who live and work within the biosphere reserves.