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Biosphere Reserves: Fact Sheet

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Publication Date: October 1997

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: 96-517

Topic: Science and technology (Science and science policy)


Since 1972, the United States has participated in the Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB), coordinated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). As part of the U.S. MAB program, 47 biosphere reserves have been established in the United States. These sites are part of a network of 324 such areas worldwide in which scientists conduct research and communicate about their findings. Biosphere reserves are nominated by the country in which they are located, and no change in jurisdiction or sovereignty occurs as a result. However, controversy has arisen over the past 3 years over the connection to the United Nations and fears by some commentators and organizations that U.S. sovereignty may be affected. The American Land Sovereignty Protection Act, H.R. 901, was introduced to address these concerns by imposing extensive conditions on the program; it has been reported by the Resources Committee and is likely to be considered by the House in October. Another bill would authorize the program to operate very much as it currently does, while others would restrict appropriations for agencies participating in the programs.