By Evie Carrick
June 20, 2019
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Certain places in the world — including the Everglades in Florida and Mount Elgon in Kenya — offer an extra dose of magic, boasting such outstanding natural beauty and biodiversity that people are working to preserve, protect, and understand the site at an international level. On Wednesday, 18 new landscapes fitting this criteria were selected to join UNESCO's exclusive World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

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The addition of 18 new reserves, which are located in 12 countries, bring the number of biosphere reserves to 701, representing 124 countries around the globe. The sites were approved and added to UNESCO’s list at the International Co-ordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme meeting in Paris.

Included in the list of new additions is the Kingdom of Eswatini’s (formerly known as Swaziland) Lubombo Biosphere Reserve, which includes 88 mammal species, of which 20 are endemic, and landscapes that range from forest to wetland to savanna. Spain’s La Siberia Biosphere Reserve, which features major freshwater reservoirs and rare flora and fauna, was also added to the ranks.

“There is a pressing need to take action for biodiversity, for our shared environmental heritage,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay in a statement. “Each UNESCO biosphere reserve is an open sky laboratory for sustainable development, for concrete and lasting solutions, for innovation and good practices. They seal a new alliance between the world of science and youth, between humans and the environment.”

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In addition to the sites in Eswatini and Spain, the following 16 reserves were added:

Austria: Lower Mura Valley Biosphere Reserve

Indonesia: Saleh-Moyo-Tambora “SAMOTA” Biosphere Reserve

Indonesia: Togean Tojo Una-Una Biosphere Reserve

Italy: Po Grande Biosphere Reserve

Italy: Julian Alps Biosphere Reserve

Japan: Kobushi Biosphere Reserve

South Korea: Gangwon Eco-Peace Biosphere Reserve

South Korea: Yeoncheon Imjin River Biosphere Reserve

Norway: Nordhordland Biosphere Reserve

Poland: Roztocze Biosphere Reserve

Russia: Lake Elton Biosphere Reserve

Spain: Alto Turia Biosphere Reserve

Spain: Valle del Cabriel Biosphere Reserve

Sweden: Vindelälven-Juhtatdahka Biosphere Reserve

Sweden: Voxnadalen Biosphere Reserve

United Kingdom: Isle of Wight Biosphere Reserve

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