The biosphere reserve concept tackles one of the most important questions which faces the world today: How can we harmonise the conservation of biological diversity with economic and social development and the conservation of cultural goods? Biosphere reserves are areas which extend over terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems or a combination of it and which are internationally recognised by the UNESCO-Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme. In March 1995, an international expert meeting was organised by UNESCO in Seville/Spain. The so-called Seville Strategy which was elaborated during the meeting recommends concrete steps for the development of biosphere reserves in the 21th century. Additionally, international guidelines for the functioning of the world-wide network of biosphere reserves were completed. On behalf of the 16 th general conference of UNESCO in 1970 the governments of the UNESCO member states founded the interdisciplinary and intergovernmental programme "Man and Biosphere". The task of the MAB programme is the international coordination of activities in order to develop and improve the basis for sustainable use and efficient protection of natural resources in the biosphere on a national level. In 1995, "Guidelines for the Protection, Maintenance and Development of Biosphere Reserves in Germany" were agreed upon. At least German biosphere reserves compare themselves with these guidelines.