This realization was translated into a new operational plan initiated by UNESCO, which defines a biosphere reserve as an area that promotes sustainable development; such reserves are delineated by the states of which they form a part, and their status is recognized by the UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Program. Biosphere reserve proceedings are based upon local community involvement and the scientific activity that takes place within it.
Around 13,000 people live in thirteen rural communities within the boundaries of the Megiddo Regional Council. These local communities have actively promoted the development of a balance between the region’s human inhabitants and the natural systems within which they live.
In 1996, the Megiddo Regional Council and KKL-JNF, in conjunction with the local committee for planning and construction in the Jezreel Valley, drew up the zoning plan for Ramat Menashe Park. This plan defined the park as occupying an area of around 80,000 dunam (approx 20,000 acres), i.e., about half of the total area under the council’s jurisdiction, and it formulated instructions for its conservation and development.
Thanks to this preparatory work, in August 2011 UNESCO recognized the area of Megiddo Regional Council as a biosphere reserve, and it is now enjoyed by about one million visitors every year.
In the future, areas of especial natural importance will be closed to motor vehicles, and only walkers, cyclists and environmentally-friendly means of transport will be permitted to enter them.