We explain what nature reserves are, how they are classified and their functions. Also, what are its characteristics and importance.

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Nature reserves were created to protect various ecosystems.

What are nature reserves?

Nature reserves, protected areas or ecological reserves are known as the various wildlife areas (flora and fauna) that are protected and managed by the human being, in favor of the conservation of its biodiversity. In addition, they provide possibilities for study and research.

Recognition of a nature reserve usually passes through the agreement of various governmentstogether with international heritage organizations (such as UNESCO), for which the preservation of said region of the biosphere is particularly important.

The criteria used by these institutions to select a territory usually have to do with endemic species (animal, plant, and other), geological regions, and other features that merit preservation. Mainly it seeks to protect them from human exploitation activities.

nature reserves are considered part of the World Heritage Site. In this sense, they are arranged for the ecological enjoyment of all the people of the world, always within a strict framework of conservation policies.

See also: Sustainable development

History of nature reserves

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The Royal Sydney National Park in Australia was created in 1903.

The first natural reserve in history was held by Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BC. c., when King Devanampiya Tissa ordered the protection of wildlife around the Mihintale village. But it is not the only example of the antiquity of biota protection by various civilizations and governments.

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LThe first modern nature reserve was the Drachenfels mountain, in Prussia, created in 1836 to end mining activities in the region. Subsequently, Yellowstone Park was created in the USA in 1872.

The Royal Sydney National Park, Australia and the Nahuel Huapi Park in Argentinawere created in 1903. The first reserve for scientific purposes was created by the Soviet Union in 1920, the zapovednik.

Types of nature reserves

Two types of nature reserves are recognized:

  • Integral. Those in which any type of exploitation of resources or economic activity is prohibited, except those authorized for scientific or research purposes.
  • Partials. Those in which the exploitation of certain resources is allowed as long as it is done in accordance with the prevailing ecological conservation regulations.

Importance of nature reserves

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Nature reserves mean the preservation of a very important biological heritage.

nature reserves they are often refuges for numerous animal or plant species that are in danger of extinction. That is enough to consider them important. In addition, they involve the preservation of a very important biological heritage from a scientific and even cultural point of view, in the fight to sustain the biodiversity of our planet.

National parks and nature reserves

National Parks and Nature Reserves are similar, but they are not the same. The first are large wilderness areas preserved more or less in its natural state. They serve recreational purposes, oxygenation of the air and preservation of the biological legacy of the region.

Nature reserves are usually smaller and be conceived with the purpose of preserving biodiversity. In that sense, they have stricter laws and more faithfully respected borders.

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Functions of nature reserves

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Nature reserves help promote sustainable human development.

Broadly speaking, a nature reserve serves to:

  • Provide a natural context for learning or research in the biological sciences, interfering as little as possible with the protected ecosystem.
  • Protect endangered species and prevent their extinction.
  • Promote a culture of sustainable human development, compatible with the perpetuation of nature.
  • Preserve the natural genetic diversity, as well as the landscapes and ecosystems that are characteristic of the region.

biological preservation

Irresponsible hunting, logging and other processes of exploitation of the world’s resources tend to pay more attention to immediate gain than to long-term ecological damage. That is why there are international organizations that combat the trade in illegal merchandise or that raise awareness among the population regarding the extinction of species.

Nature reserves are, in this sense, key elements in this fight for the preservation of the planet. The work to preserve biodiversity and especially endangered species is essential to sustain as much as possible the (sometimes precarious) balances of life on the planet.

How is a nature reserve created?

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The first step is to establish the need to protect certain species.

To create a nature reserve an initiative from the community is needed, local government and/or international conservation institutions. It often involves the collaboration of these three instances.

The first step is establish the need to protect certain species, to limit local access and to designate specific limits as well as the personnel who must guard them. These decisions are often accompanied by investment in tourism, scientific research, and other activities that the reserve allows and that economically justify its support.

Major nature reserves in the world

Some of the best known nature reserves in the world are:

  • Rub al-Khali Wildlife Protection Area in Saudi Arabia, with 640,000 kmtwo Of surface.
  • Qiangtang Nature Reserve in China, with 298,000 kmtwo Of surface.
  • Marine Reserve of the Galapagos Islands, in Ecuador, with 133,000 kmtwo Of surface.
  • Ngaanyatjjrra Indigenous Land Protected Area, Australia, 98,130 kmtwo Of surface.
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marine reserves

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An enormous biodiversity is found on the Great Barrier Reef.

marine reserves they are equivalent to natural reserves but of aquatic ecosystem, specifically those located in the sea. An example is the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Australia, where numerous animal and plant species agglomerate. They form a unique place on the planet that deserves our full attention and our efforts for its preservation.

Countries with nature reserves

The best-known and most important natural reserves in the world are found in Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Uruguay, New Zealand, the United States, Russia, Italy, Poland, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, China, Canada, Ecuador , Brazil, Bolivia, Spain, Colombia, Australia, Bulgaria, Germany, Nicaragua and many other countries.


  • “Nature reserve” on Wikipedia.
  • “Biosphere Reserve” in BioEncyclopedia.
  • “What is a nature reserve?” in Eco Consciousness.
  • “Nature Reserves” in Buenos Aires Province.
  • “Nature reserves” in Nova Scotia.
  • “Nature reserve” in The Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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