Isle of Wight recognised as Unesco Biosphere Reserve

Isle of Wight recognised as Unesco Biosphere Reserve

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It has become the third site in England and sixth in the UK to receive the status

The Isle of Wight might be quite tiny in size but it compensates for it with many other things — one of them being the recent addition to the Unesco’s worldwide network of Biosphere Reserves.

The island off the south coast of the British Isles has become the third in England and sixth in the UK to receive the status. Moreover, it is the first time in seven years that an English place receives this honour.

The status applies to the entire island and the Solent, a 20-km-long and up to 8-km-wide strait separating it from mainland England.

The Needles — Dinko G Kyuchukov / ShutterstockThe Needles — Dinko G Kyuchukov / Shutterstock

Unesco’s reserves are rare and unique areas of environmental significance, where people co-exist with nature without impacting its beauty and wildlife. The island is praised for its “strong tradition of environmental action”.

For over 55 years, the island has been a recognised Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). There is rare wildlife depending on it as its base, such as red squirrels, glanville fritillaries (butterflies), and Ventnor wall lizards.

The island is also renowned for its white chalk stacks known as the Needles, locally produced foods, and activities such as walking, cycling, watersports, or even fossil hunting.

The award celebrates the isle’s co-existence of humans and nature

The old village of Shanklin in Isle of Wight — Dinko G Kyuchukov / ShutterstockThe old village of Shanklin on the Isle of Wight — Dinko G Kyuchukov / Shutterstock

For three years, the AONB Partnership was working on the application for the award.

Richard Grogan, lead officer for the IW AONB, said: “This is global recognition that our island is not only an area of outstanding natural beauty, but that islanders have played their part in looking after it.

“In spite of the modern day pressures brought about by the progress of human beings, nature continues to thrive here.”

“In the Isle of Wight Council we know that the unique landscapes, coast and wildlife of the Island bring people here not just as tourists, but also to live, work and do business,” added Dave Stewart, Isle of Wight Council Leader.

“We believe that the key to economic success is living and working sustainably on our island, and we are very proud of the new Biosphere Reserve status and recognition given today by Unesco.”


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