Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight joins Unesco's network of biosphere sites

Military Road, Isle of Wight Image copyright David Dixon
Image caption Almost half of the Isle of Wight is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

The Isle of Wight has been recognised as part of Unesco's worldwide network of Biosphere Reserves.

The island was designated by the UN agency as one of 20 new areas considered for their environmental significance.

The title recognises the sustainable ways in which local people work with their natural environment.

Unesco's advisory committee praised the island's "strong tradition of environmental action".

More than 680 sites in 122 countries now have the Unesco designation, including Uluru in Australia, Mount Kenya, Yellowstone National Park in the US and County Kerry in the Republic of Ireland.

The Island's nomination by the government was approved at a meeting in Paris.

Almost half of the Isle of Wight is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The designation does not change the its status or regulations.

An Isle of Wight Council statement said: "The Isle of Wight is now recognised as one of the best places in the world to explore the sustainable way people interact with their natural environment."

This year's Isle of Wight Mardi Gras Parade in Ryde on 29 June will be in celebration of the Biosphere Reserve, with over 30 schools and community organisations taking part.

Wester Ross, part of the South Downs and Braunton Burrows in North Devon are among six existing Biosphere Reserves in the UK.

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