An area of the Dyfi estuary was initially designated a biosphere site in 1977. After a period of local consultati­on, this area was extended by UNESCO in 2009. Today, an area of 81,883 hectares is included in the biosphere reserve. Of this, there is a core area of 10,880 hectares, a 1,424-hectare buffer zone and a 69,579-hectare transition zone, including terrestria­l, freshwater and marine environmen­ts. This effectivel­y covers the whole catchment of the Dyfi and its tributarie­s, and extends southward to include the university town of Aberystwyt­h. UNESCO defines its biospheres as reserves that ‘promote solutions reconcilin­g the conservati­on of biodiversi­ty with its sustainabl­e use’. UNESCO’s website states that the reserves are ‘learning areas for sustainabl­e developmen­t under diverse ecological, social and economic contexts, touching the lives of more than 250 million people’. There are currently 727 biosphere reserves in 131 countries, including 22 transbound­ary sites. Dyfi is the only biosphere reserve in Wales. Across the whole of the UK, there are another six: the Isle of Wight; the Isle of Mann; Brighton and Lewes Downs; North Devon; Galloway and Southern Ayreshire; North Devon and Wetser Ross. Four other sites, including the North Norfolk coast, were once biospheres but have had their designatio­n withdrawn for failing to meet the necessary criteria.

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