Man and the Biosphere Program

What are UNESCO Biosphere Reserves?

Biosphere Reserves, also know as the Man and the Biosphere Program, are internationally recognized areas where management seeks to achieve sustainable use of natural resources while ensuring conservation of its biological diversity. For more information, UNESCO created this What is a Biosphere Reserve introduction video.

A family stands for a photo around the Isle Royale International Biosphere Sign
Welcome to the Isle Royale National Park International Biosphere Reserve


Man and the Biosphere at Isle Royale

The Isle Royale Biosphere Reserve was established in 1980. It is a remote island archipelago, situated in the northwestern portion of Lake Superior, Michigan. The park offers outstanding possibilities for research in a remote ecosystem where human influences are limited. In this respect, Isle Royale is world renowned for its long-term wolf (Canis lupus)/moose (Alces alces) predator/prey study.

Vegetation is mainly of boreal conifer and northern hardwood forest type. In the cooler and wetter areas near Lake Superior, balsam fir (Abies balsamea), white spruce (Picea glauca) and paper balsam (Betula papyrifera) dominate the mature forest. Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) dominate the warmer and drier sites in the interior of the biosphere reserve. The area's waters contain the most productive native fishery and genetically diverse trout populations in Lake Superior.

Impacts on the Isle Royale Reserve

Timber harvest of white pine (Pinus strobus) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum) for syrup has occurred in the past. Acid rain as well as high levels of PCB's in the lakes may have severe impacts on the natural ecosystems. An atmospheric monitoring station is situated within the national park.


Man and the Biosphere Project Review

All biosphere program members in the US including the national parks are under review to determine if the current reserve will be included in the future Man and the Biosphere program. Isle Royale is in the process of documenting the park's engagement in sustainable initiatives and assessing the park's local interactions under new program guidelines. To learn more, UNESCO created this Man and the Biosphere video.

US Biosphere Reserves

The United States hosts 47 Biosphere Reserves across many states and territories. The reserves protect a broad range of ecosystems, from forests, to desserts, to islands. Many US Biosphere Reserves are national park units.

Canadian Biosphere Reserves

Located just twenty miles from Isle Royale, Canada is an important partner in many facets of the Isle Royale National Park's management. Canada hosts 15 Biosphere Reserves.

Several excellent introductions to Canadian Biosphere Reserves include:

Last updated: September 5, 2016

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Houghton, MI 49931


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