|The Man and the Biosphere Programme (MaB)|
The Slovak National Committee for UNESCO MaB Programme was established in 1993, as a successor to the former Czechoslovakian National Committee. The focus of the MaB programme since the 1970s is how to best manage the relationship between people and their environment, so that the biosphere reserves are managed as a habitat capable of incorporating both people and nature.
At the 1995 International Conference on Biosphere Reserves held in Seville, the role of the biosphere reserves in the 21st century was defined based on the knowledge gained from the implementation of the Action Plan adopted in 1984. This resulted in the development of prerequisites for designating new biosphere reserves, including the need for biosphere reserves to be composed of three zones (Core Area, Buffer Zone, and Transition Area) and the requirement of all biosphere reserves to fulfil three fundamental functions, namely conservation, development and research and education. Furthermore a system of evaluation was introduced whereby biosphere reserves were to be assessed every ten years to ensure they fulfilled the criteria.
The third World Congress of Biosphere Reserves on “Biosphere Futures, UNESCO Biosphere Reserves for Sustainable Development” took place in Madrid in 2008. This was the new step in the continuing success story of the UNESCO MAB Programme. During this Conference, biosphere reserves were heralded as local, national and global laboratories for sustainable development, accommodating environmental, economic and social dimensions of global change.
The first Slovak biosphere reserve – Slovak Karst Biosphere Reserve was designated in 1977. After the initial successful experience of the Slovak Karst, in 1990 Poľana Biosphere Reserve was established as the second Slovak biosphere reserve, followed by the Tatry Biosphere Reserve in 1993 and the East Carpathians Biosphere Reserve designated in 1998, which represented the first trilateral MAB Biosphere Reserve in the world (Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine). The biosphere reserves are coordinated by the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic, particularly through its regional units based in the towns of Brzotín (Slovak Karst BR), Zvolen. (Poľana BR), Tatranská Lomnica (Tatry BR) and Stakčín (East Carpathians BR).
The four Slovak biosphere reserves represent a complete sample of both pristine and managed Central European ecosystems and landscapes. Long-term scientific research and current scientific facilities have made it possible to develop multilateral research, which is compatible with the UNESCO/MAB global programmes of environmental monitoring and with general efforts directed towards the conservation of biodiversity, sustainable development and ecological restoration. However, our biosphere reserves need to be re-evaluated, and require the implementation of the international guidelines and application of the Madrid Congress messages and challenges.