Apalachicola Celebrates 36 Years as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

Jul 24, 2019 | Apalachicola, Florida, Healthy Habitats, Reserves

Baby turtles are thriving at Apalachicola and all our Florida Reserves this year. Photo courtesy of the Apalachicola Reserve.

Florida’s Apalachicola Reserve has a lot to celebrate this year. In addition to their 40th anniversary as a NERR site, they are commemorating 36 years as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. 

This designation marks the Reserve as an internationally acknowledged protected area that demonstrates a balanced relationship between people and nature. On Apalachicola Bay, where many locals depend on tourism and the $16 million annual fishing industry, maintaining this balance is a key focus of  the Reserve’s work. 

“The Biosphere Reserves’ mission aligns closely with that of the NERRS,” says Jenna Harper, manager of the Apalachicola Reserve. “While conservation of natural resources is of the utmost importance, both networks recognize that people play a large role in influencing  those resources, positively and negatively. Locally, we focus on understanding how our natural systems are changing and working with local communities to steward these resources for the future.”

Launched in 1971, the World Network of Biosphere Reserves is a network of 701 protected areas across 124 countries, 29 of which are in the United States. The boundaries of the Apalachicola Biosphere Reserve encompass 1,615,000 acres of land and 432,600 acres of water in Florida’s central panhandle. One of the most productive estuarine systems in the Northern Hemisphere, Apalachicola Bay hosts more than 54 species of wildlife that are designated as endangered, threatened, or of special concern and has the highest species density of reptiles and amphibians in North America, north of Mexico.

“A healthy bay means a healthy economy,” observes Rebecca Roth, NERRA’s executive director. “We are proud to celebrate Apalachicola’s role as a Biosphere Reserve and the incredible work they do to help communities manage the bay so that it remains productive for future generations.” 

Apalachicola Biosphere Reserve. Map courtesy of the Apalachicola Research Reserve.

ReservesApalachicola, FloridaApalachicola Celebrates 36 Years as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve