Thirteen natural parks have been added to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves this year, which now includes 631 sites in 119 countries. Among them is the Ohrid-Prespa region, a cross-border reserve shared by Albania and Macedonia.
Spanning across 446,244 hectares between the two Balkan countries, the Ohrid-Prespa reserve is known for its scenic lake surrounded by cliffs, mountains and plains.
In Italy, UNESCO chose to distinguish two new sites: Monte Viso, a mountain located near the French border, and Sila National Park in Calabria, home to around 1,000 vascular plants and over 210 species of vertebrates.
Likewise, UNESCO chose to distinguish two new sites each in Japan -- (Minami Alps and Tadami) and Kazakhstan (Ak-Zhayik and Katon-Karagay).
Conversely, certain biosphere reserves were removed from the global network this year as they no longer meet UNESCO's criteria. These include Austria's Gossenköllesee and Gurgler Kamm, which entered the network in 1976, and UK's North Norfolk Coast, which entered in 1976.
The Man and the Biosphere Program, created by UNESCO in the early 1970s, is an intergovernmental scientific initiative aimed at improving the relationship between people and their environment at the global level.
The complete list of the new additions to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves can be found at www.unesco.org.