UNESCO Biosphere Reserves are internationally representative land, water or coastal regions in which sustainable development is actively practised. These exquisite areas embody the cohabitation of man and nature. On the one hand, they are characteristic of certain types of landscapes and ecosystems and, on the other hand, they are “open-air laboratories” for testing innovative methods and demonstrating how nature and human use can be reconciled through optimal management. UNESCO Biosphere Reserves fulfil three basic functions: conservation and development through promoting sustainable economic development, as well as the creation of an international network for research, monitoring and education in the field of the environment. The worldwide network of biosphere reserves comprises approximately 686 areas in 122 countries. In Austria, there are currently four biosphere reserves.