Biosphere reserves require zoning according to UNESCO guidelines. Zoning is defined according to the conditions of the natural landscape and the intensity of human activity; it seeks to give different weighting to the various demands of sustainable spatial development. Within the network of biosphere reserves, the UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch is noted for its pre-alpine landscapes of moorland and karst. Zoning for the UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch is also guided by existing legal provisions.
UNESCO stipulates that at least 5% of the surface area is designated as a core zone. Entlebuch has a core zone spanning approximately 8%. This mainly comprises upland moors, fens, transitional peat bogs, bog woodland, wetlands, forests, no-hunting areas and rock formations.
The core zone also incorporates the striking karst landscape of the Schratteflue.
Sustainable and sparing interventions are permitted in core zones, and this is also the case in many areas of the UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch.
In the buffer zone, the good of nature is just as important as the good of the local populace. For this reason, the zone contains natural spaces such as meadows, pastures and fens along with cultivated areas of forest.
According to UNESCO, the buffer zone should make up at least 10% of the surface area – but in the UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch, the buffer zone comprises around 42% thanks to extensive areas of protective forests, fens and pastures. From a land use perspective, these areas are predominantly assigned to the BLN (Federal Inventory of Protected Landscapes and Natural Monuments) or classified as moors of national importance.
Alongside the core zones and buffer zones, development zones make up some 50% of the Biosphere Entlebuch. In contrast to the other two zones, people are permitted to develop here according to their needs. The primary goal of this is not progress, but the balanced development of social, economic and cultural values.
These values, which are determined by people in the area, may include residential development and the establishment of company premises.