The Ural Mountains are now part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves

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This week in the city of Palembang, Indonesia, a regular session of the International Coordinating Council of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere program takes place. The session members decided to add 24 new sites to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, including wildlife reserves in Russia, Kazakhstan and Moldova.

"The conditions for sustainable development are preserving biodiversity and rationally using natural resources in these ecosystems", said Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay. "These natural sites are somehow laboratories of harmonic cooperation between people and nature. They contribute to the exchange of knowlege and to improve the life of local population", Audrey Azoulay added.

To the date, the World Network of Biosphere Reserves includes 686 sites, located in 122 countries. The network covers different ecosystems: from coasts and islands to mountain areas, wetlands, rainforests and arid zones.

Sites in Moldova and Mozambique first appeared in the prestigious list of UNESCO during this session. Biosphere reserves are considered as "living labs" for studying biodiversity as well as places for testing different approaches to the complex management of natural resources. These wildlife reserves are often seen as examples of sustainable development.