The Isle of Wight

UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

The Isle of Wight - a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

We all know the Isle of Wight is a great location to visit for many unique reasons, but did you know that UNESCO recognised the Island as a Biosphere Reserve in 2019?

The award comes as recognition for the Island’s strong environmental values and innovation. One of only seven Biosphere Reserves in the United Kingdom, you enter the biosphere only a few minutes after your ferry departs either Portsmouth or Lymington.

What is a Biosphere Reserve?

The definition of a Biosphere Reserve is an area that has been recognised for the sustainable ways the local community work with their natural environment. The title is awarded to locations across the world.

Biosphere Reserve status is granted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), meaning that the Isle of Wight is now part of a worldwide network of biosphere zones.

The difference between a biosphere reserve and national parks or wildlife sanctuaries is that human activity on the area is less restricted.

The Island is also known as a National Landscape (previously an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). Combining these two accolades highlights the Island as a true champion of environmental significance.

Explore the Island's landscapes

Find out for yourself why the Isle of Wight is recognised as a Biosphere Reserve by paying a visit.

To truly be at one with nature, fill up your stay on the Island with plenty of walking or cycling, tackling one of many paths that trail through the countyside and along the stunning coastline.

We can get you across the Solent in just 22 minutes, so what are you waiting for? Book your sailing today.

Book your ferry

Why the Isle of Wight?

The Isle of Wight is a particularly unique location in that it is well-populated, with over 140,000 people living there, and yet full of natural wonders.

A key reason behind UNESCO’s decision to grant the Island Biosphere Reserve status is its history of environmental action, constantly striving to promote a healthier and more sustainable way of living for both its residents and the many tourists who visit each year.

Wildlife thrives on the Island. It is both the most northern and most southern home for a number of species, perhaps reflective of its unique microclimate, and in its woodlands you may well stumble across some red squirrels – one of few UK locations in which you can spot the elusive creatures.

Best places to visit

If you’re heading to the Island and you’re keen to sample some of its natural beauty, check out one (or all!) of the locations below.

An aerial picture of Newtown nature reserve on the Isle of Wight

Newtown Creek

At the Island’s only National Nature Reserve, hay meadows are filled with flowers and butterflies, and rare red squirrels jump through the trees of the ancient woodland. It is a beautiful retreat that has something to offer for anyone looking for a peaceful getaway.

Newtown National Reserve and Old Town Hall

Alum Bay

With the famous Needles Landmark in sight, Alum bay is a popular destination. The bay is also of geological interest thanks to its multi-coloured sand cliffs. The bay is also linked to the Needles Marine Conservation Zone and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

See Alum Bay
Ventnor Botanic Gardens

Ventnor Botanic Garden

Ventnor Botanic Garden is one of the great gardens of Britain. With over 30,000 rare and subtropical plants, it’s a must-see for any budding botanist. The exotic selection thrive in a mild climate that’s similar to the Mediterranean.

Explore Ventnor Botanic Garden

Green Solent Project

Find out how our broad range of green initiatives are helping to protect the environment in which we operate, allowing us to live harmoniously with the biosphere.

Find out about the Green Solent Project

Other UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in the UK

The Isle of of Wight is one of seven locations recognised as biosphere reserves. Here is the list of areas with links for more biosphere information:

  • Isle of Wight
  • Wester Ross
  • Braunton Burrows-North Devon
  • Biosffer Dyfi
  • Galloway ans southern Ayrshire
  • Brighton and Lewes Downs
  • Isle of Man

Find out more information about UNESCO biosphere reserves.