Difference between National Park, Wildlife Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve

Difference between National Park, Wildlife Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve
Difference between National Park, Wildlife Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve

According to the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and amendments done later on provide for the definition of national park, wildlife sanctuary and biosphere reserve vide Chapter IV, IV-A, IV-B and IV-C that covers section 18 through 38-Z.

It includes the National Tiger Conservative Authority and the powers to declare protected areas etc. The Forest Protection Act of 1980 and Forest Act of Indian 1927 are also read together for the definition of WLPA (Wild Life Protection Act).

National Park

National Park
Tiger Safari in Bandhavgarh National Park

It is an area with a lot of natural, geo-morphological and ecological significance with rich diversity of flora and fauna (plants and animals). It falls under the Category 2 of IUCN Classification (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

The park is designed with the primary motive of protecting and developing wildlife or its environment. The rights of the people living in this area are tightly regulated.

It means that all kinds of activities like cultivation of land, forestry, hunting, grazing, encroachment, habitat destruction etc are strongly prohibited. Any person found guilty of the aforementioned activities is to be legally prosecuted.

Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga National Park in Guwahati

However, removal of forest produce needs prior recommendation from the National Board of Wildlife. The national park however offers outdoor recreational activities, camping opportunities and are designed in such a manner that public is educated regarding importance of the conservation activities.

The Central Government has the freedom to declare any area in India as national park. The first national park was established way back in 1936 by the name Hailey National Park which is now popularly known as Jim Corbett National Park.

As on July 2015, there are 103 national parks in India encompassing over a whopping area of 40,500 sq km and comprise 1.23% of Earth’s surface area.

Wildlife Sanctuary

Mitiyala Wildlife Sanctuary
Mitiyala Wildlife Sanctuary

Also known as Wildlife Refuges, it is the home to all kinds of endangered species of wild animals. These kinds of animals are safe from predation, hunting or competition.

This in turn safeguards from getting extinction in their natural habitat from planet Earth. It falls under the category 4 of IUCN Classification.

Suitable living conditions are available for wildlife. These kind of places mainly comprise of broad leaf forests, mountain forests or landscapes. Every year thousands of tourists and nature lovers throng the wildlife sanctuaries.

Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary
Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary

Over here, activities like timber harvesting, collection of forest products etc which is otherwise banned in national park is allowed in the wildlife sanctuary. However, before doing such activities prior permission needs to be taken from the concerned officials.

It is interesting to note that many natural sanctuaries were earlier national park. India has 537 wildlife sanctuaries and out of which 50 tiger reserves are governed by Project Tiger.

Biosphere Reserve

Biosphere reserves help the conservation of ecosystems
Biosphere reserves help the conservation of ecosystems

It is actually an area of coastal and terrestrial ecosystem that has been globally recognized within the framework of the Man and Biosphere (MAB) program. It comes under Category 5 of IUCN Classification but includes Categories 2,3,4 in it.

It is to be noted that the biosphere reserve is not formed as per the guidelines of Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and it may include wildlife sanctuary and national park in it.

It also includes the buffer and tourism zones and offer protection to not only wild animals but also to the indigenous people like for instance Attapadi Hill Tribes.

Biosphere Reserves
Biosphere Reserves

Under the progradm of MAB, there is a network available called World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) and within this network, exchange of personnel, experience and information is allowed.

There are 18 biosphere reserves found in India but only 9 of them are accepted as a part of World Network of Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO.

Also Read – Important Facts about National Hydrology Project of India

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