THE ISLE of Wight has become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

It is only the third place in England and the sixth in the UK to be awarded such a status.

Becoming an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve means the IW is now recognised as one of the best places in the world to explore the sustainable way people interact with their natural environment.

UNESCO Biosphere Reserves are unique areas of environmental significance in which communities strive to work hand in hand, innovatively and responsibly to protect and support the local environment and the world we all live in.

This year’s IW Mardi Gras Parade in Ryde will be in celebration of the news, with more than 30 schools, community organisations and carnival companies joining the New Carnival Company at on June 29.

The IW Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership worked on the application for the status, on behalf of the government, for three years, to ensure the Island is recognised for the way people and nature coexist.

Richard Grogan, lead officer for the IW AONB, said: "This is global recognition that our Island is not only an area of outstanding natural beauty, but that Islanders have played their part in looking after it.

"In spite of the modern day pressures brought about by the progress of human beings, nature continues to thrive here."

Jonathan Bacon, chair of the IW AONB, added: "Achieving biosphere status is like receiving the biggest gold star on offer anywhere in the world for people’s relationship with the world around them.

"It shows that on the Island we are getting closer to finding the right balance between meeting our needs and our children’s needs, while including the needs of wildlife.

"It is now up to us to maintain all the good things we have here and see how we can use the accreditation to support and develop local, national and international recognition of what the IW has to offer, to boost our visitor economy and encourage appropriate sustainable development."

Bob Seely, IW MP said: "I am delighted the IW has achieved this internationally recognised status. Gaining this award is part of the agenda to appreciate and celebrate our landscape, for our quality of life and our aspirations as an Island.

"We need to celebrate our unique and beautiful landscape and this award is recognition of the way we do that. We must continue to respect our landscape and preserve it for future generations.

"I congratulate all those involved in securing this status for the Island."

Cllr Dave Stewart, IW Council leader, said: "At the council we know the unique landscapes, coast and wildlife of the Island bring people here not just as tourists, but also to live, work and do business.

"We believe the key to economic success is living and working sustainably on our Island, and we are very proud of the new status and recognition given by UNESCO."

Will Myles, managing director at Visit IW, said: "This award is incredible, and a testament to the hard work that the IW AONB Partnership have done and continue to do.

"The Island’s hundreds of thousands of visitors recognise its unique qualities and to achieve this status is something that will most certainly have a positive impact on our visitor economy."