Life on an island is like a small model of the world. The island’s unique natural beauty, which has been preserved thanks to local people living in harmony with nature and the sensitive island environment, is the reason why UNESCO recognised the West Estonian archipelago as a model of sustainable life, which should be followed more diligently throughout Estonia and beyond. Hiiumaa and other West Estonian islands have been a part of the international Man and the Biosphere Programme since 1990.
Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB)
UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) was launched in 1971. It initially included 14 thematic sub-programmes, all of which scientifically researched the relationship between people and the biosphere in a time of escalating environmental issues. Man and the Biosphere is an intergovernmental science programme whose primary aim is to ensure a balanced joint development of biodiversity and human culture. To achieve this, the programme is based on an extensive network of biosphere reserves with nearly 700 protected areas in the largest ecosystems. These are not ordinary protected areas, but rather areas where sustainable management solutions are being developed and the synergy between the local community, heritage and nature is addressed. Since ancient knowledge and skills on how to sustainably use the biosphere have been preserved in different areas of the world, the MAB aims to introduce and apply these skills as much as possible. The MAB now has multiple thematic sub-programmes, such as for deserts, mountainous areas, conurbations, islands and coastal areas. You can find more information about the MAB on the UNESCO website.