A nature reserve
(also known as a natural reserve
, wildlife refuge, wildlife sanctuary,biosphere reserve
or nature preserve
, or nature conservation area
), is a protected area
of importance for flora
, or features of geological
or other special interest, which is reserved and managed for purposes of conservation
and to provide special opportunities for study or research
. They may be designated by government
institutions in some countries, or by private landowners, such as charities and research institutions
. Nature reserves fall into different IUCN categories
depending on the level of protection afforded by local laws. Normally it is more strictly protected than a nature park
. Various jurisdictions may use other terminology, such as ecological protection area
or private protected area
in legislation and in official titles of the reserves.
Cultural practices that roughly equate to the establishment and maintenance of reserved areas for animals date back to antiquity, with King Tissa
establishing one of the world's earliest wildlife sanctuaries
in the 3rd century BC.
Early reservations often had a religious underpinning, such as the 'evil forest' areas of West Africa which were forbidden to humans, who were threatened with spiritual attack if they went there. Sacred areas taboo from human entry to fishing and hunting are known by many ancient cultures worldwide.
Waterton invented artificial nest boxes
to house starlings
and sand martins
; and unsuccessfully attempted to introduce little owls
Waterton allowed local people access to his reserve and was described by David Attenborough
as "one of the first people anywhere to recognise not only that the natural world was of great importance but that it needed protection as humanity made more and more demands on it".
was protected as the first state-designated nature reserve in modern-day Germany; the site was bought by the Prussian
State in 1836 to protect it from further quarrying.
Around the world
There are several national and international organizations that oversee the numerous non-profit animal sanctuaries
and refuges in order to provide a general system for sanctuaries to follow. Among them, the American Sanctuary Association
monitors and aids in various facilities to care for exotic wildlife.
The number of sanctuaries has substantially increased over the past few years.
In Brazil, nature reserves are classified by the National System of Conservation Units
as ecological stations
: estações ecológicas
) or biological reserves
: reservas biológicas
). Their main objectives are preserving fauna and flora and other natural attributes, excluding direct human interference. Visits are allowed only with permission, and only for educational or scientific purposes. Changes to the ecosystems in both types of reserve are allowed to restore and preserve the natural balance, biological diversity and natural ecological processes.
Ecological stations are also allowed to change the environment within strictly defined limits (e.g. affecting no more than three percent of the area or 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres), whichever is less) for the purpose of scientific research.
A wildlife reserve in Brazil
is also protected, and hunting is not allowed, but products and by-products from research may be sold.
Wildlife refuges in Brazil have as their objective the protection of natural flora and fauna where conditions are assured for the existence and reproduction of species or communities of the local flora and the resident or migratory fauna. The refuges can consist of privately owned land, as long as the objectives of the unit are compatible with the landowners' usage of the land and natural resources. Public visits are subject to the conditions and restrictions established by the management plan of the unit and are subject to authorisation by and regulations of the main administrative and scientific research body.
, UNESCO has recognized 18 nature reserves, mostly along the Niagara Escarpment and St. Lawrence River in Ontario.
Federally, Canada recognizes 55 National Wildlife Areas across the country, containing species of ecological significance. The relevant Ministry is known as Environment and Climate Change Canada, which protects these areas under legislation known as the Canada Wildlife Act. The areas comprise approximately 1,000,000 ha (2,500,000 acres) of habitat, half of which is marine habitat, for the purpose of conservation and research.
Many conservation groups protect nature reserves in Canada as well, including Nature Conservancy Canada, Ducks Unlimited, and Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy
. These charities operate to protect wilderness on privately owned lands, including through Canada's Ecological Gifts Program.
There are 30 nature reserves in Egypt
which cover 12% of Egyptian land. Those nature reserves were built according to the laws no. 102/1983 and 4/1994 for protection of the Egyptian nature reserve. Egypt announced a plan from to build 40 nature reserves from 1997 to 2017, to help protect the natural resources and the culture and history of those areas. The largest nature reserve in Egypt is Gebel Elba
(35,600 square kilometres (13,700 sq mi)) in the southeast, on the Red Sea
Denmark has three national parks
and several nature reserves, some of them inside the national park areas. The largest single reserve is Hanstholm Nature Reserve, which covers 40 km2
(9,900 acres) and is part of Thy National Park
, there are 29 national parks. The first of them was established in 1909. In fact, Sweden was the first European country that established 9 national parks.
There are almost 4,000 nature reserves in Sweden. They comprise about 85% of the surface that is protected by the Swedish Environmental Code.
In Estonia, there are 5 national parks, more than 100 nature reserves, and around 130 landscape protection areas. The largest nature reserve in Estonia is Alam-Pedja Nature Reserve
, which covers 342 km2
In 1995 Germany
had 5,314 nature reserves (German
) covering 6,845 km2
(2,643 sq mi), the largest total areas being in Bavaria with 1,416 km2
(547 sq mi) and Lower Saxony with 1,275 km2
(492 sq mi).
In Hungary, there are 10 national parks, more than 15 nature reserves and more than 250 protected areas. Hortobágy National Park
is the largest continuous natural grassland in Europe and the oldest national park in Hungary. It is situated on the eastern part of Hungary, on the plain of the Alföld. It was established in 1972. There are alkaline grasslands interrupted by marshes. They have a sizable importance because there are the fishponds. One of the most spectacular sights of the park is the autumn migration of cranes. Some famous Hungarian animal species live in Hortobágy National Park, such as the grey cattle, racka long-wool sheep living only in Hungary, Hungarian horses and buffalo. Hortobágy National Park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site
since 1 December 1999.
As of 2011, Poland has 1469 nature reserves.
Nature reserves are one of the 11 types of protected areas in Portugal. As of 2012, Portugal had a total of 46 protected areas, which represented 6,807.89 km2
(2,628.54 sq mi) of land and 463.94 km2
(179.13 sq mi) of marine surfaces. Among the protected areas, nine are classified as nature reserve (Portuguese
: reserva natural
About 5.18% of the area of Romania has a protected status (12,360 km2
(4,770 sq mi)), including the Danube Delta
, which makes up half of this area (2.43% of Romania's total area).
The Swiss National Park
, created in 1914, was one of the earliest national parks in Europe. In addition to the Swiss National Park, Switzerland also has sixteen regional nature parks
, a biosphere reserve in Iran
The biosphere reserves of Iran has a total land area of 1.64 million km2
. The "reserves" support more than 8,000 recorded species of plants (almost 2,421 are endemic
), 502 species of birds
, 164 species of mammals
, 209 species of reptiles
, and 375 species of butterflies
's 18 biospheres extend over a total of 85,940 km2
(33,180 sq mi) and protect larger areas than typical national parks in other countries. The first national reserve of India was established in 1986.
's national parks are declared historic sites or nature reserves, which are mostly operated and maintained by the National Nature and Parks Authority. As of 2019, Israel maintains more than 490 nature reserves that protect 2,500 species of indigenous wild plants, 20 species of fish, 530 species of birds and 70 species of mammals. In total, they cover 6,400 km2
(2,500 sq mi) of nature reserves, approximately 28% of the country's land area. In 1984, the two areas with the highest number of nature reserves were the South (15.2%) and Samaria
(the Shomron, 13.5%).
Under the Nature Conservation Law, places can be designated as 'wilderness areas', 'nature conservation areas' and 'prefectural nature conservation areas'. In 1995, when the Japanese Government published its information in English, there were 5 wildernesses, 10 nature conservation areas and 516 prefectural nature conservation areas.
There are seven nature reserves in Jordan
. In 1966 the organization that would later start Jordan's nature reserves, the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature
, was founded. RSCN's first efforts involved bringing back severely endangered species. In 1973, RSCN was given the right to issue hunting licenses, giving RSCN an upper hand in preventing extinction. The first step was the founding of Jordan's first nature reserve, Shaumari Wildlife Reserve
, in 1975. The primary purpose was to create means to breed endangered species, specifically: the Arabian oryx
, and Persian onagers
in their natural environment.
By the end of 2009 there were 10 nature reserves (Kyrgyz
: корук, koruk
) in Kyrgyzstan covering 600,000 hectares (6,000 km2
) or about three percent of the total area of the country.
New Zealand has a variety of types of reserve, including national parks
, various types of conservation areas (including stewardship land that is yet to be officially classified), and seven specific types of "reserve", each of which prioritize various degrees of protection
to different amenities such as scenery, recreation, flora and fauna, scientific value, or history. Land is often sub-categorised beneath its general classification, as defined in law between the Reserves Act of 1977
, the National Parks Act of 1980
, and the Conservation Act of 1987
. Under these classifications, the Department of Conservation
administers more than 80,000 square kilometres (31,000 sq mi)—nearly 30% of the nation's total area—with at least some degree of protection. This land is composed of 14 National Parks, 30 Conservation Parks, and approximately 8,900 discrete areas of land in total.
Although the most public land is strongly protected for natural preservation, the term nature reserve
is specifically defined in the Reserves Act to mean a reserve that prioritizes the protection of rare flora and fauna, to the extent that public access is by permit only. Some of these reserves include Ecological Islands
, a comparatively new concept in wildlife preservation, pioneered in New Zealand to help rebuild the populations of nearly extinct birds, and other species that are heavily threatened by introduced predators.
Peñas Blancas, part of the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve
is the second largest rainforest in the Western Hemisphere, after the Amazonian Rainforest in Brazil. Located northeast of the city of Jinotega
in Northeastern Nicaragua.
, the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources
(MARENA) is in charge of environmental protection and of the study, planning, and management of Nicaragua's natural resources. Nearly one-fifth of the territory is designated as protected areas like national parks, nature reserves (including the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve
), and biological reserves. Nicaragua has 78 protected areas that cover 22,422 km2
(8,657 sq mi), about 17.3% of the nation's landmass. Private nature reserves exist with land excluded from private land trusts and maintained at the sole cost of the proprietor. For example, "O Parks, WildLife, and Recreation" was established within the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor
by former FDNY
firefighter Kevin Michael Shea, who purchased 46 acres (0.19 km2
) of land in this manner and is an example of this type of private nature reserve.
There are around 100 nature reserves (Russian
: заповедник, zapovednik
) in Russia, covering some 330,000 km2
(130,000 sq mi), or about 1.4% of the country's total area. A few of them predate the October Revolution
of 1917, but most have been created during the Soviet Union
era. There are also natural protected areas where only certain species are protected, or only certain activities are prohibited; those are known as zakaznik
Unofficial sanctuaries can also occur as a result of human accidents; the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
has in practice become a wildlife refuge since very few people live in the area. Wildlife has flourished in the zone since the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986.
South Africa is well known for its many nature reserves. The oldest nature reserve in the country (and oldest conservation area in the world) is the Groenkloof Nature Reserve
that was established in 1892 in the capital city Pretoria
in the old South African Republic
and current Republic of South Africa. The country has many national parks but the best-known is the Kruger National Park
, which was announced in 1898, and is the largest, at nearly 2,000,000 ha (20,000 km2
). The Kruger Park and Table Mountain National Park
are two of South Africa's most visited tourist attractions. South Africa also has a number of World Heritage Sites
and provincial game reserves
, Sanbona and Lalibela. The country currently has 20 national parks covering 3,700,000 ha (37,000 km2
), about 3% of the total area of South Africa.
The area around Mihintale
, Sri Lanka
as a sanctuary for wildlife,
probably the first of its generation in the ancient world. According to stone inscriptions found in the vicinity, the king commanded the people not to harm animals or destroy trees within the area.
There are 4 biosphere reserves (two of them are dated 1927 and 1874) and 17 nature reserves in Ukraine, covering 160,000 ha (400,000 acres). Ukraine administers 40 national parks, 2632 habitat management areas, 3025 nature monuments, and 1430 other preservations.
There are now over 1,050 local nature reserves
in England. They range from windswept coastal headlands, ancient woodlands and flower-rich meadows to former inner-city railways, long-abandoned landfill sites and industrial areas now re-colonized by wildlife. In total, they cover almost 40,000 ha (99,000 acres)—an impressive natural resource which makes an important contribution to England's biodiversity
. A good example is Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
in East Sussex, where a network of footpaths enables visitors to explore shingle, saltmarsh, saline lagoon, reedbed, and grazing marsh habitats.
In the United States, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
, managed by the Secretary of the Interior
, is responsible for managing many of the federal nature reserves including the National Wildlife Refuge System
. The National Wildlife Refuge System includes areas administered for the protection and conservation of fish and wildlife that are threatened with extinction, as well as wildlife ranges, game ranges, wildlife management areas, and waterfowl production areas.
There are also state-level administered State Nature Reserves found throughout the country, as well as smaller reserves operated by local governments, private trusts, or even funded through public donations. Private nature reserves also exist, with land excluded from private land trusts and maintained at the sole cost of the proprietor, such as the 1,800 acres (730 ha) Wilbur Hot Springs
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Last edited on 28 March 2021, at 05:08
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