The Indian MAB Committee following the UNESCO Programme identified a network of 14 representative ecosystems to be designated as biosphere reserves. Twelve biosphere reserves have already been set up. The Gulf of Mannar, the first marine biosphere reserve in Southeast Asia, was established on 18 Feb. 1989. A biosphere reserve is intended to fulfil three basic objectives: "of conserving in situ of biodiversity of natural and seminatural ecosystems and landscapes, contributing to foster sustainable economic development of the human population living within and around the biosphere reserve and providing facilities for long-term ecological studies, environmental education and training, and research and monitoring related to local, national and global issues of conservation and sustainable development". Article 7 of the convention on biological diversity states that each contracting party shall identify the components of biological diversity important for conservation and sustainable use, monitor, through sampling and other techniques, the components of biological diversity identified paying particular attention to those requiring urgent conservation measures and those which offer the greatest potential for sustainable useâ€¦etc. It is only appropriate to identify and monitor components of biological diversity in protected areas on priority basis. Realising that the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, with a variety of ecosystems such as coastal, Mangrove Island and marine, is suitable site for such an exercise, the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt of India, funded a project for 3 years during 1993- 1996. However, the authors have explored the 19 existing islands comprising the biosphere reserve as well as the mainland coast from Rameswaram to Kanyakumari so that the flora of the islands can be related.
The Flora of The Gulf of Mannar: Southern India
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