Biosphere Zonation

The UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) requires each biosphere region to have appropriate zonation that includes: 

  • a legally constituted core area or areas devoted to long-term protection, according to the conservation objectives of the biosphere region, and of sufficient size to meet these objectives
  • a buffer zone or zones clearly identified and surrounding or contiguous to the core area or areas, where only activities compatible with the conservation objectives can take place
  • an outer transition area where sustainable resource management practices are promoted and developed

The land designations and zonation have evolved over the years due to various land use planning and management changes. Scroll down to learn more!

2020 Zonation

In 2008, the land designations legally changed within the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere. New watershed plans mapped and designated areas set aside as reserves/regions to protect a range of values including: hydroriparian resources, sensitive soils and unstable terrain, red- and blue-listed species, forest-interior conditions in late successional forests, cultural values, scenic and recreation values, and representative ecosystems.

The 2008 watershed plans also mapped and designated:

  • harvestable areas on which sustainable forest harvesting can take place;
  • special management zones that protect First Nations’ cultural values; and
  • scenic, recreational, and tourism values in areas that are accessible for forest harvesting.

Our 2020 zonation map shown here reflects these designations. 


Impact of Watershed Plans on our Zonation

These 2008 watershed plans significantly impacted the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere zonation. Based on the recommendations of the Clayoquot Scientific Panel and the inclusion of the nuučaan̓uł (Nuu-chah-nulth) First Nations as major participants in the planning process, completion of the watershed plans represent efforts that meet the MAB’s zonation requirements.

The watershed plan reserves, harvestable areas, and special management zones altered the actual amount of area within the core area, buffer zone, and transition zone within the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere in comparison to the spatial configuration from 2000. These land use designations result in:

  • an increase in the core protected area by including the watershed reserve network;
  • a shift in some of the original buffer zone to core protected area;
  • a substantial addition to the buffer zone by including special management zones; and
  •  a decrease in the area of the transition zone.

The following table depicts areas (ha) within each terrestrial zone of the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere after allocating:

  • watershed reserves to the core protected zone, and
  • special management zones to the buffer zone.


Area (ha) in Nomination Document

Area (ha) in CSBR Periodic Review 2010

Watershed Planning Zones

Area (ha) in CSBR Periodic Review 2020

Core Protected

90,412 (34%)

89,158 (34.5%)


87,343 (34%)*

Watershed Reserves

100,727 (39%)


159,148 (62%)


58,736 (22%)

58,436 (22.5%)

Special Management Zones

68,044 (26%)




116,557 (44%)

110,890 (43%)


29,367 (12%)

Other Area

1,860 (0.5%)


31,227 (12%)







(* Note that there is some overlap between parks and watershed reserves.)