United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), on Wednesday, included Maldives' Addu Atoll and Fuvahmulah in their list of biosphere reserves.
Prior to this, the only UNESCO biosphere reserve in Maldives was Baa Atoll, rich in biodiversity and one of the spots in the world where Manta Rays gather in large numbers, designated as such in 2011.
Biosphere reserves described as "learning places for sustainable development", promote solutions reconciling the conversation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih nominated Addu and Fuvahmulah as UNESCO biosphere reserves in September 2019, to ensure environmental protection, including the preservation of natural marine life, as well as guaranteeing that the areas are utilised in a sustainable manner.
In order to designate both these geographical atolls as biosphere reserves, the state granted protected status to four eco-rich sites in Addu, including 'Kudakandu' area in Addu's lagoon, 'Maakilhi' and 'Fehele kilhi' in Hithadhoo, 'Maafishi Kilhi' (Keyvakaa Gon’do) in Hulhudhoo and 'Mathi kilhi' at the intersection of Hulhudhoo and Meedhoo.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's administration earlier declared 11 areas from Haa Alif, Haa Dhaalu, Shaviyani and Noonu Atoll in addition to ‘Farikede Faru,’ a marine site in Fuvahmulah City, as protected sites under Section 4 of the Environmental Protection and Preservation Act of Maldives (Act No: 4/93), in accordance with the administration’s strategic action plan.
Designating at least one island, one reef and one mangrove, in each atoll, as a protected area is one of President Solih’s pledges.