The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – commonly known as UNESCO – provides recognition through its Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme to certain regions deemed to have global significance. These places are called World Biosphere Reserves.
The Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), proposes an interdisciplinary research agenda and capacity building aiming to improve the relationship of people with their environment globally. Launched in the early 1970s, it notably targets the ecological, social and economic dimensions of biodiversity loss and the reduction of this loss. It uses its World Network of Biosphere Reserves as vehicles for knowledge-sharing, research and monitoring, education and training, and participatory decision-making.
The list of Biosphere Reserves around the world includes the Florida Everglades, the Galapagos Islands, the Serenghetti Plains and over 591 other areas in 105 countries. In 1990, the Niagara Escarpment joined this distinguished company. The Biosphere Reserve program emphasizes the importance of wise planning in maintaining the natural integrity of biosphere reserves, while accommodating the needs of growing human populations. For the Escarpment, this is accomplished by Ontario's Niagara Escarpment Plan, the land use plan that has controlled development on the Escarpment since 1985. The Plan has been studied and admired worldwide as a model for land use planning in World Biosphere Reserves.