A systematic review of Asian community participation in biosphere reserves

Mastura Jaafar (School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia, George Town, Malaysia)
Andrew Ebekozien (School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia, George Town, Malaysia; Bekos Energy Services Nigeria Limited, Ikorodu, Nigeria and Bowen Partnership, Quantity Surveying Consultancy Firm, Benin City, Nigeria)
Diana Mohamad (School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia, George Town, Malaysia)
Ahmad Salman (School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia, George Town, Malaysia)

PSU Research Review

ISSN: 2399-1747

Article publication date: 10 June 2021

703

Abstract

Purpose

Managing biosphere reserves (BR) have become more challenging regarding the socio-cultural conflict between communities and BR administrators. For the past two decades, community participation (CP) has become the central narrative for BR management practices in Asia. This paper aims to set out to analyse the current literature because of the paucity of systematic reviews on CP in Asian BR. Also, it proffers possible solutions to enhance biosphere performance.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 31 related studies were identified from the Scopus, Web of Science databases and materials from organisations in the field of practice of territorial conservation. Three themes emerged from the review – willingness to participate, encumbrances and possible solutions.

Findings

Factors that influence community willingness to participate in a BR, encumbrances facing the community and possible policy solutions to enhance CP in a BR in Asia were the three themes that emerged from the review. The factors that influence community willingness were categorised into the level of participants in education, perceived waste of time, no confidence of the outcome, okay with current management, land owned, household size and gender factors.

Research limitations/implications

This paper’s recommendations were based on empirical literature reviewed systematically but do not compromise the robustness concerning BR management practices in Asia. It was established that to enrich the findings of this research, regional studies of CP in BR should be conducted, including primary source data using the mixed methods paradigm.

Practical implications

As part of the practical implications, recommendations were highlighted to enhance CP in BR. Also, the paper suggested that BR administrators should have two-way communication mechanisms, cross-sectoral participation and collaboration, implement locally-based solutions through full engagement of community members in decision-making.

Originality/value

This is probably the first systematic review paper on BR management practices in Asia. Filling the theoretical gap via systematic review was part of the significant contribution to CP in Asian BR.

Keywords

Citation

Jaafar, M., Ebekozien, A., Mohamad, D. and Salman, A. (2021), "A systematic review of Asian community participation in biosphere reserves", PSU Research Review, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/PRR-12-2020-0040

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Mastura Jaafar, Andrew Ebekozien, Diana Mohamad and Ahmad Salman.

License

Published in PSU Research Review. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence maybe seen at http://creativecommons.org/licences/by/4.0/legalcode


1. Introduction

Over the years, despite the abundance of research on community participation in Asian biosphere reserves, efforts to systematically appraisal these studies are lacking. Although a few systematic review articles have been published regarding community participation in other fields, such as medicine (Lee et al., 2019), environmental monitoring and information systems (Wehn and Almomani, 2019) but none from the biosphere reserves in Asia. Thus, this paper attempts to fill the gap in understanding the factors that influence community willingness to participate in biosphere reserves, challenges and proffer possible solutions. This is to enhance community participation in biosphere reserves amongst the Asian biosphere reserves stakeholders. The relationship between the community and biosphere reserves administrators is being threatened possibly because of inadequate community engagement (Catibog-Sinha and Wen, 2008). Stakeholders’ participation is one of the prerequisites for sustainable management of nature reserves (Catibog-Sinha and Wen, 2008; Andrade and Rhodes, 2012). The study asserted that co-management is the most appropriate way to engage communities in biosphere administration. Andrade and Rhodes (2012) affirmed that the practice-based form of community participation increases the legitimacy of the biosphere reserve in the local community. UNESCO (1996) asserted that to accomplish moral management of the biosphere reserve, land management should be implementable. In the opinion of Cuong et al. (2017a, 2017b), community participation either formal or informal is one of the possible ways to achieve good management of the biosphere reserve. Stakeholder participation enhances dialogue and cooperation in biosphere planning and management (Cuong et al., 2017b).

This paper will fill a significant theoretical gap in the literature with a holistic baseline on the community participation in biosphere reserves in Asian Region. This is germane to the tourism and biosphere reserves relationship. Several studies, for example, Catibog-Sinha and Wen (2008), Haija (2011) and Yung and Chan (2011) have shown that biosphere reserves attract tourists. There has been a paucity of literature regarding Asian community participation in biosphere reserves. This is probably the first systematic review conducted on community participation in Asia’s biosphere reserves. Also, missing is the inadequate systematic analyses conducted regarding the databases searched, articles excluded, search terms used, etc. This makes it problematic for forthcoming researchers to replicate the research, validate the explanation or evaluate the completeness of the study in line with Greenhalgh and Peacock (2005). This paper is timing because the trend in global tourism is moving towards the Asian Region. Thus, the calls for urgent possible solutions that will enhance resilience in community engagement in Asian biosphere reserves.

To develop an appropriate systematic review, this paper focussed on the main research question – how can community participation enhances the Asian biosphere reserves and provide sustainable development? This paper attempts to analyse the present literature on Asian community participation in biosphere reserves. This section focusses on the purpose of carrying out a systematic review and justification for this study. Section 2 presents the material and methods, including the preferred reporting items for scientific reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA) statement used. Sections 3 and 4, systematically review the empirical literature to identify, choice and evaluate the existing literature regarding community willingness to participate in Asian biosphere reserves. This includes the discussion of findings, the paper’s implications and future research areas for researchers.

2. Material and methods

This section presents the material and methods used in the systematic review article. This includes study design, eligibility criteria, information sources and search strategies, the systematic review process and data abstraction and analysis.

2.1 Study design

Meta-analysis of observational studies in epidemiology guidelines as adopted by Stroup et al. (2000) was used in this paper. This is in line with the PRISMA standard (Moher et al., 2009). From the main research question as stated in the previous section, three research questions were generated and evaluated in this paper. They are as follows:

RQ1.

What are the factors that influence community willingness to participate in biosphere reserves in Asia?

RQ2.

What are the encumbrances facing community willingness to participate in biosphere reserves in Asia?

RQ3.

What are the possible policy solutions to enhance community participation in biosphere reserves in Asia?

2.2 Eligibility and exclusion criteria

Selected studies that reported community participation in biosphere reserves in their countries within Asia were considered for inclusion. This includes published work from the year 2001 to 2019. A 19 years’ timeline is the acceptable duration to see the progress of research and related publications regarding community participation and biosphere reserves in Asia. This is in line with Salleh et al. (2020) that used 19 years (between 2001 and 2019) as adequate for a systematic review study in Asia. The emphasis on selection and consideration was based on peer-reviewed journal articles. The article focussed on community participation/planning (CP) and biosphere reserve (BR) in Asia countries. However, case reports, meeting abstracts and expert opinions were excluded from this paper. Also, review articles, book series, textbooks, conference proceedings were excluded. This is because the materials were not peer-reviewed. Finally, in line with the objectives that focus on Asian community participation and biosphere reserve, only articles relevant to the subject matters were selected as presented in Table 1.

2.3 Information sources and search strategies

The search strategy was developed by the authors in consultation with a reference group. The reference group assisted with terminology and appropriate synonyms, as well as the sentinel articles reviewed. In September 2019, the search was concluded from the various relevant database. The selection of search items considered cognate terms such as “Asian countries”, “biosphere management”, “community engagement”, “influencing factors”, “willingness to participate”, “community participation”, “community planning”, “biosphere reserves”, “systematic review”, “biosphere in Asia”, “community willingness”, “factors that influence” “environmental sustainability” and “conservation of biosphere”. The paper explored literature from biosphere management-related disciplines. The specialist was available for mediation throughout this phase, with emphasis on the established eligibility criteria. Web of Science and Scopus were the major databases explored to search for primary studies and supported with materials from organisations in the field of practice of territorial conservation. One of the reasons is that Web of Science is a strong research database with over 33,000 journals with coverage of over 256 disciplines. In addition, the Scopus database contains over 22,800 journals from over 5,000 publishers globally.

2.4 Systematic review process

Four phases were used in the systematic review process in October 2019. The first stage identified keywords used for the search procedure. Trusting on former studies and thesaurus, keywords similar and related to community participation and biosphere reserve in Asian countries were used as highlighted in the previous sub-section. At this phase, after the cautious screening, four duplicated papers were deleted. As a follow-up in the second phase (screening in progress), out of 316 articles qualified to be reviewed, a total of 230 articles were deleted. At the eligibility stage (third stage), before the full examination of the articles, after careful investigation, a total of 51 articles were excluded. This is because some of the excluded articles did not focus on community participation regarding biosphere reserve or were not empirical articles. In the last phase, 35 articles emerged and were used for the study as presented in Figure 1. The flow is in line with Moher et al. (2009). Referring to Figure 1, the first top layer is the identification layer, followed by the screening layer. The third and fourth layers represent the eligibility layer and finally, the included layer.

2.5 Data abstraction and analysis

The used articles were evaluated and analysed. The output of the study focussed on precise studies regarding the articulated research questions. The data were extricated by perusing through the abstracts first, then the full papers to recognise suitable themes and sub-topics. The analysis was performed using the thematic analysis to identify themes related to Asian community participation in biosphere reserves. The themes were organised around the research questions established. The next section focusses on the results and discussion of this paper.

3. Results and discussion

This section presents the findings and discussion of the systematically reviewed literature in themes. Three themes emerged from the analysed findings of the reviewed literature regarding Asia biosphere reserves with an emphasis on community participation. The themes are factors that influence community willingness to participate, encumbrances facing the community and possible policy solutions to enhance community willingness to participate in Asian biosphere reserves as presented in Table 2. Also, this section focusses on the paper’s implications, limitations and future direction for researchers. Findings provided an all-inclusive analysis of the existing community participation in biosphere reserves in Asian communities. Referring to Table 2, the summarised table shows that a total of five studies focussed on Nepal’s community participation in biosphere reserves, four studies concentrated on community participation in biosphere reserves in China and four studies focussed on community participation in biosphere reserves in India and Russia. Others are three studies that focussed on Malaysians community participation in biosphere reserves, three studies concentrated on community participation in biosphere reserves in Indonesia, two studies concentrated on Vietnamese community participation in biosphere reserves, two studies focussed on Thai community participation in biosphere reserves and two studies concentrated on community participation in biosphere reserves in Bangladesh. Also, one study focussed on Sri Lankan, Jordan, Myanmar, Japan and Hong Kong community participation in biosphere reserves. Regarding the research design used, 6 studies used a mixed-methods approach, 8 studies applied a quantitative analytic method and 21 studies applied a qualitative approach. Regarding years published, three articles were published in 2019, followed by six papers published in 2017, one study published in 2016 and six articles were published in 2015. Others are three articles published in 2014, two articles were published in 2013 and one study was published in 2012. Three studies were published each in 2011 and 2010, two articles were published in 2006 and one article each was published in 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001.

3.1 Factors that influence community willingness to participate

This section concentrates on the factors that influence community willingness to participate in biosphere reserves in Asian countries. A total of 23 articles out of 35 studies focussed on community willingness to participate in biosphere reserves. People’s participation in biosphere reserves is generally low from the findings of the reviewed literature across Asia. Findings from most reviewed literature perceived that the level of participants’ education, lack of confidence in the outcomes, waste of time, etc., were identified as the major factors that influence community willingness to participate. Although the authors recognised that the biosphere reserve is a unique technique to proffer solutions to the conservation and development via participatory planning and collaboration but there is evidence of lax implementation. This calls for concern. In China, the local people in Wolong Biosphere Reserve admitted the same as above but were not hopeful regarding the biodiversity conservation of the future locals (Xu et al., 2006). The authors found that education, land ownership, size of household, gender and residence location are amongst the factors that affect the perceptions of the locals. The authors’ findings were collaborated by Wang et al. (2010) and Qingcheng et al. (2011). The previous authors reported that this is one of the reasons for the low level of community participation in Kanas Nature Reserve of Xinjiang. One of the possible reasons is the land ownership system. In China and other major countries in Asia, land ownership belongs to the state. This hinders individual or community participation because the right to dispose of is restricted. This is different from the western world. In the western world, most land is held as private ownership by an individual or corporate organisation. The latter authors suggested further study regarding government strategies to address this issue so that community participation may improve. While in the Jiuzhaigou Biosphere Reserve, also in China, findings have shown that despite the weak participation of locals in decision-making processes, the community benefits many things from the tourism activities (Li, 2006). This finding deviates from the existing academic understanding of the consequences of weak community participation in decision-making processes. One of the reasons is that the management policy in Jiuzhaigou Biosphere Reserve is tailored towards “people-driven”. Secondly, the decision makers of the reserves are well-educated in biosphere reserves management.

In Russia, Nikolaeva et al. (2015a, 2015b) found that the current level of engagement in South-Kamchatka Sanctuary (and Kuril Lake in particular) is low. Although they are aware of government conservation activities, such as ecological campaigns, public land/water clean-ups and collecting litter left by other visitors. The authors discovered that local communities get almost no profits from South-Kamchatka Sanctuary. This may have influenced their attitudes towards the protected area and participation. This is unlike the special protection area in the “Kislukhinsky” Reserve (Silantyeva et al., 2015). In Indonesia, several studies, for example, Datta et al. (2012) and Damastuti and Groot (2017) have been conducted to evaluate the significance of community-based mangrove management. They identified inappropriate socialisation of community regulation, poor leadership, lack of financial assistance, etc., as the major factors that influence community willingness to participate in biosphere reserves. This issue needs to be addressed drastically. In Bangladesh, many techniques have been launched to engage the community in forest resources management (Islam et al., 2013). Although there are some challenges, the authors found that community participation has improved irrespective of the low participation witnessed by the local people. Some of the outcomes are reduced long-time conflict between major stakeholders, participant’s capacity building through training, the increased livelihood of participants, etc. Malaysia is not exempted from the low participation of the local people in biosphere reserve activities. Nelson et al. (2014) found a negative correlation between the characteristics. For instance, knowledge about the role of the forest to the local people in Kawang Forest Reserve, Sabah, Malaysia. This slightly differs from Nath et al. (2017). The authors found that the participants from Peatland Swamp Forest in Malaysia want to contribute to reserves conservation. This contribution is done through participation in the community-based rehabilitation project, joining in awareness creation programme, tree planting, etc. In Vietnam, a low level of community awareness was identified as one of the factors that influence community willingness to participate in biosphere reserves (Cuong et al., 2017b). Table 3 presents the summary of the main factors that influence community willingness to participate in biosphere reserves.

3.2 Encumbrances facing community willingness to participate

This section focusses on the hindrances facing community willingness to participate in biosphere reserves in Asian countries. A total of 23 studies reported that there are hindrances facing community willingness to participate in biosphere reserves across Asian countries. There are four major challenges from the eight identified. This includes temporary and financial challenges, the interest of the community, limited knowledge about biosphere reserve and top-down management. One of the possible root causes of the interest of the community and limited knowledge regarding the biosphere reserve is poor communication with the local people. In China, several studies such as Xu et al. (2006), Li (2006) and Wang et al. (2010) found poor communication as the main factor that hinders the willingness of locals to participate in biosphere reserves activities. The previous authors opined that land ownership, education level, size of a household and gender have a link with community participation. Even with these challenges, local people in Wolong Biosphere Reserve hold a positive attitude towards the biosphere reserve (Xu et al., 2006). In Vietnam, Cuong et al. (2017a, 2017b) found that biosphere reserves in the country are hindered regarding the operation and management because of the top-down management approach, inadequate funding from the central government and weak awareness. Also, the weak legal status of biosphere reserves has hindered the community’s willingness to participate. However, the good news is the support from the national framework, autonomous provincial and city authorities via direct management. The latter authors acknowledged that the biosphere reserves conform to the conceptual model of the National man and the biosphere Committee but not yet fully implemented due to limitations as earlier highlighted. Hence, a community awareness campaign is pertinent.

In Russia, Nikolaeva et al. (2015a, 2015b) identified excessive blueback salmon catch, poor management, poaching, littering, etc., as the possible threats to South-Kamchatka Sanctuary. In Sri Lanka, findings show that many scholars have attempted to join biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development via many techniques (Wattage and Mardle, 2005). This has not yielded quantifiable evidence over the years. The authors found that environmental activities are more significant in a conservation area with water, mangrove and fish than providing for development programmes. They may want to guard these resources, as their source of income depends on them. This slightly different from Thailand. Tseng et al. (2019) found that community participation is one of the major attributes influencing ecotourism potential. This is strengthened by local community participation and support for conservation programmes. Also, there is inadequate, deleterious situation and sentiments of local communities towards the biosphere reserves. Even at that, the local people remain an important policy mechanism for biosphere reserves management and conservation in Thailand (Bennett and Dearden, 2014). In India, there is a lack of legal example for community co-management but the presence of the Golden Langur Conservation Project with 10 community-based organisations agreements to protect forests with the Bodoland Territorial Council and Assam Forest Department is a welcome source to explore a legal community co-management approach (Horwich et al., 2010).

In Indonesia, Lestari et al. (2015) found that irrespective of the levels of participation, the public organised programmes. An example of such programme is information sharing; this is very effective. The authors acknowledged that inadequate information has hindered the willingness to participate in the early stage of the programme. Also, it shows that a highly educated community participant appears to appreciate the relevance of community programmes from social and environmental protection points of view. Damastuti and Groot (2017) found that incentives have improved community participation, yet the system faces institutional sustainability challenges. Findings show that some of them fail to function after the withdrawal of external assistance while some experience the loss of the community’s support because of conflict within the system. The authors identified the issues of power-grabbing, credit taking, social exclusion, etc., as the root cause of the conflicts. This is a threat to sustainability. In the same manner, there are issues of functioning problems where the government-funded projects are implemented. What then is the way forward? Some of the possible solutions to enhance sustainable community participation in biosphere reserves will be addressed in the next section of this paper. Table 3 presents the summary of the main encumbrances facing community willingness to participate in biosphere reserves.

3.3 Possible policy solutions to enhance community participation

This section proffers possible solutions to enhance community willingness to participate in biosphere reserves in Asian countries. A total of 30 out of 35 studies focussed on possible solutions to enhance community participation in biosphere reserves. Several studies including Khadka and Nepal (2010), Nelson et al. (2014), Lestari et al. (2015), Nath et al. (2017), Cuong et al. (2017a, 2017b), etc., acknowledged the role of locals in the biosphere reserves management regarding social development and biodiversity conservation. Amongst the major recommendations across the Asian authors is two-way communication mechanisms, development of employment opportunities, cross-sectoral participation and collaboration, implementation of locally-based management solutions and techniques to improve the biosphere reserves awareness via education. In Malaysia, Nelson et al. (2014) recommended appropriate policy and organisational steps to enhance the community in the participation of community-based resources management. Also, proper training and motivation in the form of employment creation should be provided for the community. The outcome will be a win-win situation for the community and the biosphere reserves. While Nath et al. (2017) suggested a community-based approach for sustainable biosphere reserve management for the Peatland Swamp Forests in Malaysia.

In China, Xu et al. (2006) recommended a two-way communication (top-bottom and bottom-top approaches) technique to enlighten the locals regarding the management of reserves. Also, the need to create employment opportunities for the community. This will motivate them to be part of biosphere reserves activities or programme. There is a need for rural communities in China to seek and enhance economic, educational and social opportunities via “pro-people biosphere reserves policy” (Wang et al., 2010). Qingcheng et al. (2011) suggested that policymakers and management officials should give attention to public education regarding the coexistence between community and biosphere reserve. While in Vietnam, Cuong et al. (2017b) suggested the implementation of locally-based management solutions to achieve future sustainability and effectiveness of the biosphere reserves. This requires all-inclusiveness, cross-sectoral participation and collaboration of the provincial leaders, relevant main stakeholders and communities for this task to be achieved. Viewpoint from Cuong et al. (2017a) recommended good awareness and communication to the community. This will enhance successful biosphere reserves via increasing community participation. Viewpoints from Nikolaeva et al. (2015a, 2015b) suggested a fair and equitable distribution of benefits to the locals. This will enhance the effective management of biosphere reserves and gain support from stakeholders. Nikolaeva et al. (2015a) affirmed that the approval of the strategy of tourism development in the Russian Federation led to the further development of ecotourism and this is an important and promising branch of the tourist industry in Russia. One of the strategies was engagement and increasing community participation in reserve preservations across Russia.

In the context of the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, Nepal, Parker et al. (2015) recommended that policy to improve community participation in biosphere reserves should be all-inclusive. This will eliminate marginalisation and decentralisation that is one of the challenges to community participation in Kanchenjunga Conservation Area. The success of Kanchenjunga Conservation Area is not only to Nepal but to the international community. This is because Kanchenjunga Conservation houses the Kanchenjunga mountain complex, and is one of the components that links Nepal, India and China (Oli et al., 2013). In Indonesia, Lestari et al. (2015) suggested further improvement of publicly organised programmes regarding information sharing. This will increase the chances of the success of biosphere reserves and enhance community participation. While Damastuti and Groot (2017) recommended the combined approach with scientific and technological help, different sources of income (incentives) and continuous monitoring to improve the management of the community-based reserves. The outcome will lead to improved livelihood of community participants in terms of economic well-being because of efficient resource utilisation. Regarding the Marine Protected Area in Thailand, Bennett and Dearden (2014) recommended that local development should be taken considered, and effectively managed and governed via governance and local development to ensure effectiveness. The outcome will enhance the conserved marine protected area and increase natural resources. Tseng et al. (2019) suggested biosphere reserves cleanliness management, facility management with conservation regarding the biosphere reserves, engagement of local people to manage the biosphere reserves amongst others in the development of biosphere reserves in Thailand.

To summarise, as community participation increase in the surrounding environment, biosphere reserves will be enhanced. This indicates that community participation and teamwork are critical for better biosphere reserves governance. More research is needed to explore host community perceptions and harmonious development regarding the benefits of biosphere reserves to the host community. This can be achieved via a pragmatic and all-inclusive policy that will carry everyone along in decision-making. The outcome of this will be a “win-win” for the biosphere reserves stakeholders. Also, the management of Asia’s biosphere reserves should embrace the implementation of appropriate locally-based management solutions in addressing issues arising from relevant actors and communities in the biosphere reserves. Table 3 presents the summary of the possible policy solutions to enhance community participation in biosphere reserves.

3.4 Paper’s implications

As part of the theoretical implications and generic relevance, this paper seeks to contribute to the literature on community participation in biosphere reserves in Asia in three ways. Firstly, this paper conducted an extensive systematic review of community participation in biosphere reserves across Asia with major countries captured in line with Shaffril et al. (2018). Despite the abundance of studies on community participation in biosphere reserves, efforts to systematically review these studies were still lacking. Thus, this paper attempts to fill the gap in understanding the willingness for community participation, hindrances and possible solutions to enhance community participation in biosphere reserves amongst Asian biosphere reserves stakeholders. This marks a unique theoretical contribution to the body of knowledge. Secondly, the findings that emerged are instructive in providing a fresh insight to the policymakers and other stakeholders regarding the significance of community participation in biosphere reserves across Asia. This finding points to the stirring-up of some useful policy improvements and management processes. This will ensure that future biosphere reserves operation in Asia meets the needs of stakeholder participation. Thirdly, this paper systematically explored the challenges facing community participation in biosphere reserves across Asia and proffer possible policy solutions. Also, as part of the practical implications, this paper will be useful to the environmental conservationists and other stakeholders in the biosphere reserves in Asia and other parts of the world; to guide them regarding community participation in biosphere reserves. Also, this review provides more information about biosphere reserves in Asia.

3.5 Benefits and limitations of the community involved in biosphere reserves activities

The benefit of the community involved in biosphere reserves activities cannot be over-emphasised. Amongst the benefits are the policymaking and implementation that encourage the engagement of stakeholders. Many scholars, for example, Simpson (2008) and Cuong et al. (2017a, 2017b) see community participation in biosphere reserves as a saviour of the disadvantaged, providing opportunities and economic benefits, promoting social exchange and enhancing livelihoods. Also, there is a strong indication that the biosphere reserves could be used for conservation and sustainable socio-economic development and enhances the local community values. Therefore, it is a network of conservation and sustainability one of the limitations is that biosphere reserves are yet to develop appropriate communication strategies to build community awareness. Also, the lack of an integrated management plan for the whole biosphere reserves and inadequate comprehensive framework to evaluate the context are some of the main limitations. Others are lack of conceptual and strategic advancement to foster the socially balanced management of the biosphere reserves.

3.6 Limitations and future direction

This paper’s analysis is limited because of the methodology adopted. This approach was used to fill the existing gap of reviewed papers that captured community participation in biosphere reserves across Asian countries. This does not compromise the robustness of this paper. Much is needed to be known regarding community participation in biosphere reserves across Asian countries. Therefore, more areas of research need to be given consideration. Firstly, most of the existing articles in this review are fully either quantitative (8) or qualitative (17). While six studies relied on a mixed-methods approach. Future research should consider using more a mixed-methods approach with an emphasis on exploratory sequential mixed methods. Ebekozien et al. (2018, 2019, 2020) averred that the exploratory sequential mixed methods approach aids the researcher to confirm and clarify the qualitative findings. This will increase the generalisability of the future study’s findings. Creswell and Plano-Clark (2018) asserted that a more clear and thorough presenting of analysis techniques for a mixed-methods approach can produce improved findings and enhanced skill to censoriously assess the rigour of review techniques. Therefore, this paper suggests that future research should be tailored towards regional studies of community participation in the biosphere reserve. Also, the collection of data should be from a primary source using the mixed methods paradigm. The outcome will be to validate the findings from this study. These are parts of the new front burners that emerged from this paper. These new areas could be explored by future researchers.

4. Conclusion

Community participation has become the central narrative in the current biosphere reserves management practices across the globe. Findings show that community participation and collaboration are critical for better biosphere reserves governance. In addition, community willingness to participate in biosphere reserves is low across Asia. The paper identified top-down management, temporary and financial challenge approach, weak collaboration, limited knowledge about biosphere reserves, etc., as the hindrances facing community willingness to participate in biosphere reserves in Asia. Findings show that with the improved engagement of the community in biosphere reserves across Asia, there will be an increase in environmental conservation, economic development and protection initiatives. Hence, the justification for this paper with some feasible possible solutions to mitigate the hindrances and enhance the community participation in biosphere reserves. Amongst the possible solutions that merged from this study include government should use their apparatus to educate the host communities regarding the benefits associated with biosphere reserves to the community. Also, recommended to the biosphere managers/custodians is the two-way communication mechanisms. The two-way mechanisms involve top-bottom and bottom-top approaches. This will eliminate the unforeseen gap in the engagement of the community. The need for strengthening regional, including international cooperation to enhance conservation and development across Asia, cannot be over-emphasised. Therefore, it is germane that researchers and policymakers develop policies and management actions that will represent the economic and future interests of the local people with an emphasis on environmental sustainability via locally-based management solutions and create employment opportunities for the communities around the biosphere reserves. This is one of the well-known principles of natural area management. This paper concludes that effective community participation would enhance the acceptance of biosphere reserves by the locals and improve management efficiency. Therefore, mitigating the issues that may be a threat to community willingness to participate in biosphere reserves cannot be over-emphasised. The outcome will be a win-win situation for the communities and the biosphere reserves in Asia.

Figures

The flow diagram of the systematic review of Asian community participation in biosphere reserves

Figure 1.

The flow diagram of the systematic review of Asian community participation in biosphere reserves

The inclusion and exclusion criteria

Criterion Eligibility Exclusion
Type of literature Peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters in books with editorial committees or doctoral theses with thesis committees Journals (systematic review), book series, book, conference proceedings
Timeline Between 2001 and 2019 <2001
Language English Non-English
Indexes Social science citation index, emerging sources citation index, art and humanities index (Web of Science) Science citation indexed expanded (Web of Science)
Countries and territories Asian countries Non-Asian countries

Source: Adapted from Shaffril et al. (2018)

Main findings from Asian community participation in biosphere reserves

Authors Countries Main design Factors that influence
willingness
Encumbrances facing community
willingness to participate
Possible solutions to enhance
community participation
LE PT NO SM G LO HS TC RD T IC SA LB NR TM WC TM SP IE DO PC LS CC AF
Xu et al. (2006) China MM
Wang et al. (2010) China MM
Li (2006) China QL
Qingcheng et al. (2011) China QL
Nikolaeva et al. (2015a, 2015b) Russia QL
Silantyeva et al. (2015) Russia QL
Nikolaeva et al. (2015a, 2015b) Russia QL
Nikolaeva et al. (2015a) Russia QL
Cuong et al. (2017b) Vietnam QL
Cuong et al. (2017a) Vietnam QL
Yung and Chan (2011) Hong Kong QL
Haija (2011) Jordan QL
Lestari et al. (2015) Indonesia MM
Damastuti and Groot (2017) Indonesia QL
Gurney et al. (2016) Indonesia QN
Wattage and Mardle (2005) Sri Lanka QN
Tseng et al. (2019) Thailand QN
Bennett and Dearden (2014) Thailand QL
Rasoolimanesh et al. (2017) Malaysia QN
Nelson et al. (2014) Malaysia QN
Nath et al. (2017) Malaysia QL
Soe and Yeo-Chang (2019) Myanmar MM
Lee (2019) North Korea QL
Maikhuri and Saxena (2001) India QL
Horwich et al. (2010) India QL
Kent et al. (2011) – India India QL
Rao et al. (2003) India QN
Clusener-Godt (2002) Japan QL
Islam et al. (2013) Bangladesh MM
Roy et al. (2013) Bangladesh QN
Parker et al. (2015) Nepal MM
Adhikari et al. (2014) Nepal QL
Anup et al. (2015) Nepal QL
Budhathoki (2004) Nepal QL
Khadka and Nepal (2010) Nepal QN
Factors that influence willingness Encumbrances facing community participation Possible solutions to enhance community participation
LE = level of participants in education TC = temporary and financial challenges TM = two-way communication mechanism
PT = perceived waste of time RD = relevancy doubt SP = step-by-step relocation policy
NO = not confident of the outcome T = timing IE = improve awareness of biosphere reserve via education
SM = satisfied with current management IC = interest of community DO = develop employment opportunities
G = gender SA = selection of participant approach PC = policies should consider heterogeneous characteristics of goals
LO = land owned LB = limited knowledge about biosphere reserve LS = implementation of locally-based management solutions
HS = household size NR = not willing to relocate CC = cross-sectoral participation and collaboration
TM = top-down management AF = agreement fulfilment
WC = weak collaboration
Notes:

QN = quantitative; QL = qualitative; MM = mixed methods

Summarised main findings

Objective one: factors that influence community willingness to participate Objective two: encumbrances facing community willingness to participate Objective three: possible policy solutions to enhance community participation
Level of participants’ education Temporary and financial challenges Two-way communication mechanisms
Lack of confidence in the outcomes Interest of community Cross-sectoral participation and collaboration
Waste of time Limited knowledge about biosphere reserve Implementation of locally-based management solutions
Land ownership Top-down management Development of employment opportunities
Size of household Poor communication with the local people Techniques to improve the biosphere reserves awareness via education
Gender Weak collaboration Appropriate policy and organisational steps to enhance the community
Residence location Relevancy doubt Proper training and motivation in the form of employment creation
No economic value Selection of participant approach Policies should consider heterogeneous characteristics of goals
Inappropriate socialisation of community regulation Timing Agreement fulfilment
Poor leadership Not willing to relocate Step-by-step relocation policy
Lack of financial assistance
Low level of community awareness

References

Adhikari, S., Kingi, T. and Ganesh, S. (2014), “Incentives for community participation in the governance and management of common property resources: the case of community forest management in Nepal”, Forest Policy and Economics, Vol. 44, pp. 1-9.

Andrade, M.S.G., Jonathan, R. and Rhodes, R.J. (2012), “Protected areas and local communities: an inevitable partnership toward successful conservation strategies?”, Ecology and Society, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 1-6.

Anup, K.C., Rijal, K. and Sapkota, P.R. (2015), “Role of ecotourism in environmental conservation and socio-economic development in Annapurna conservation area, Nepal”, International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 251-258.

Bennett, J.N. and Dearden, P. (2014), “Why local people do not support conservation: community perceptions of marine protected area livelihood impacts, governance and management in Thailand”, Marine Policy, Vol. 44, pp. 107-116.

Budhathoki, P. (2004), “Linking communities with conservation in developing countries: buffer zone management initiatives in Nepal”, Oryx, Vol. 38 No. 3, pp. 334-341.

Catibog-Sinha, C. and Wen, J. (2008), “Sustainable tourism planning and management model for protected natural areas: Xishuangbanna biosphere reserve, South China”, Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 145-162.

Clusener-Godt, M. (2002), “Asia pacific co-operation for the sustainable use of renewable natural resources in biosphere reserves and similarly managed areas”, Trees, Vol. 16 Nos 2/3, pp. 230-234.

Creswell, J.W. and Plano-Clark, V.L. (2018), Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research, 3rd ed., Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Cuong, V.C., Dart, P., Dudley, N. and Hockings, M. (2017a), “Factors influencing successful implementation of biosphere reserves in Vietnam: challenges, opportunities and lessons learnt”, Environmental Science and Policy, Vol. 67, pp. 16-26.

Cuong, V.C., Dart, P. and Hockings, M. (2017b), “Biosphere reserves: attributes for success”, Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 188, pp. 9-17.

Damastuti, E. and Groot, R. (2017), “Effectiveness of community-based mangrove management for sustainable resource use and livelihood support: a case study of four villages in Central Java, Indonesia”, Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 203, pp. 510-521.

Datta, D., Chattopadhyay, R.N. and Guha, P. (2012), “Community based mangrove management: a review on status and sustainability”, J. Environ. Manage, Vol. 107, pp. 84-95.

Ebekozien, A., Abdul-Aziz, A.R. and Jaafar, M. (2018), “Low-cost housing leakages in Malaysia: the unexplored dimension”, Pacific Rim Property Research Journal, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 249-264.

Ebekozien, A., Abdul-Aziz, A.R. and Jaafar, M. (2019), “Housing finance inaccessibility for low-income earners in Malaysia: factors and solutions”, Habitat International, Vol. 87, pp. 27-35, doi: 10.1016/j.habitantint.2019.03.009.

Ebekozien, A., Abdul-Aziz, A.R. and Jaafar, M. (2020), “Unravelling the encumbrances in the low-cost housing computerised open registration system in Malaysia’s major cities”, Property Management, Vol. 38 No. 3, pp. 1-19.

Greenhalgh, T. and Peacock, R. (2005), “Effectiveness and efficiency of search methods in systematic reviews of complex evidence: audit of primary sources”, Br. Med. J, Vol. 331 No. 7524, pp. 1064-1065.

Gurney, G.G., Cinner, E.J., Sartin, J., Pressey, L.R., Ban, N.C., Marshall, A.N. and Prabuning, D.N.A. (2016), “Participation in devolved commons management: multiscale socioeconomic factors related to individuals’ participation in community-based management of marine protected areas in Indonesia”, Environmental Science and Policy, Vol. 61, pp. 212-220.

Haija, A.A.A. (2011), “Jordan: Tourism and conflict with local communities”, Habitat International, Vol. 35 No. 1, pp. 93-100.

Horwich, H.R., Islari, R., Bose, A., Dey, B., Moshahary, M., Dey, K.N., Das, R. and Lyon, J. (2010), “Community protection of the manas biosphere reserve in Assam, India, and the endangered golden langur trachypithecus geei”, Fauna and Flora International, Oryx, Vol. 44 No. 2, pp. 252-260.

Islam, M.R.U., Gupta, M.P., Filia, G., Sidhu, P.K., Shafi, T.A., Bhat, S.A., Hussain, S.A. and Mustafa, R. (2013), “Sero-epidemiology of brucellosis in organized cattle and buffaloes in Punjab (India)”, Age, Vol. 3 No. 451, p. 39.

Kent, K., Sinclair, J. and Diduck, A. (2011), “Stakeholder engagement in sustainable adventure tourism development in the Nanda Devi biosphere reserve, India”, International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 89-100.

Khadka, D. and Nepal, K.S. (2010), “Local responses to participatory conservation in Annapurna conservation area, Nepal”, Environmental Management, Vol. 45 No. 2, pp. 351-362.

Lee, J.H. (2019), “Analysing local opposition to biosphere reserve creation through semantic network analysis: the case of Baekdu Mountain range, Korea”, Land Use Policy, Vol. 82, pp. 61-69.

Lee, D., Heffron, L.J. and Mirza, M. (2019), “Content and effectiveness of interventions focusing on community participation poststroke: a systematic review”, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Lestari, S., Kotani, K. and Kakinaka, M. (2015), “Enhancing voluntary participation in community collaborative Forest management: a case of Central Java, Indonesia”, Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 150, pp. 299-309.

Li, J.W. (2006), “Community decision making participation in development”, Amals of Tourism Research, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 132-143.

Maikhuri, K.R. and Saxena, G.K. (2001), “Conservation policy – people conflicts: a case study from Nanda Devi biosphere reserve (a world heritage site), India”, Forest Policy and Economics, Vol. 2 Nos 3/4, pp. 355-365.

Moher, D., Liberati, A., Tetzlaff, J. and Altman, D.G. (2009), “Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and Meta-analyses the PRISMA statement”, PLoS Med, Vol. 6, p. e1000097.

Nath, K.T., Dahalan, B.P.M., Parish, F. and Rengasamy, N. (2017), “Local peoples’ appreciation on and contribution to conservation of Peatland swamp forests: experience from Peninsular Malaysia”, Wetlands, Vol. 37 No. 6, pp. 1067-1077.

Nelson, J., Yahya, H., Chowdhury, H.S.M. and Muhammed, N. (2014), “Indigenous community awareness and rights to Forest in Kawang Forest reserve, Sabah, Malaysia”, International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 127-137.

Nikolaeva, V.J., Bogoliubova, M.N. and Shirin, S.S. (2015a), “Ecological tourism in the state image policy structure: experience and problems of modern Russia”, Current Issues in Tourism,

Nikolaeva, E., Zavadskaya, A., Sazhina, V. and Watson, A. (2015b), “Social science in the Russian far East: understanding protected area visitors’ and local residents’ attitudes”, International Journal of Wilderness, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 1-12.

Oli, K., Chaudary, S. and Sharma, U. (2013), “Are governance and management effective within protected areas of the Kanchenjunga landscape (Bhutan, India and Nepal)?”, Parks, Vol. 19, pp. 25-36.

Parker, P., Thapa, B. and Jacob, A. (2015), “Decentralising conservation and diversifying livelihoods within Kanchenjunga conservation area, Nepal”, Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 164, pp. 96-108.

Qingcheng, H., Zhaolu, W., Wai, Z. and Rui, D. (2011), “Perception and attitudes of local communities towards wild elephant-related problems and conservation in Xishuangbanna, southwestern China”, Chinese Geographical Science, Vol. 21 No. 5, pp. 629-636.

Rao, S.K., Nautiyal, S., Maikhuri, K.R. and Saxena, G.K. (2003), “Local peoples’ knowledge, aptitude and perceptions of planning and management issues in Nanda Devi biosphere reserve, India”, Environmental Management, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 168-181.

Rasoolimanesh, M.S., Ringle, M.C., Jaafar, M. and Ramayah, T. (2017), “Urban vs. rural destinations: residents’ perceptions, community participation and support for tourism development”, Tourism Management, Vol. 60, pp. 147-158.

Roy, D.K.A., Alam, K. and Gow, J. (2013), “Community perceptions of state Forest ownership and management: a case study of the Sundarbans Mangrove Forest in Bangladesh”, Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 117, pp. 141-149.

Salleh, M.N., Salim, A.A.N., Jaafar, M., Sulieman, Z.M. and Ebekozien, A. (2020), “Fire safety management of public buildings: a systematic review of hospital buildings in Asia”, Property Management, pp. 1-15.

Shaffril, M.A.H., Krauss, E.S. and Samsuddin, F.S. (2018), “A systematic review on Asian's farmers' adaptation practices towards climate change”, Science of the Total Environment, Vol. 644, pp. 683-695.

Silantyeva, M.M., Ovcharova, V.N., Andreeva, B.E. and Kuznetsov, A.A. (2015), “Rare and unique communities in the South of Western Siberia of the Bolshaya Sogra natural complex (Kislukhinsky state natural regional reserve, the Altaisky Krai, Russia)”, International Journal of Environmental Studies, Vol. 72 No. 3, pp. 501-508.

Simpson, C.M. (2008), “Community benefit tourism initiatives-a conceptual oxymoron?”, Tourism Management, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 1-18.

Soe, T.K. and Yeo-Chang, Y. (2019), “Perceptions of forest-dependent communities toward participation in Forest conservation: a case study in Bago Yoma, South-Central Myanmar”, Forest Policy and Economics, Vol. 100, pp. 129-141.

Stroup, F.D., Berlin, A.J., Morton, C.S., Olkin, I., Williamson, D.G., Rennie, D., Moher, D., Becker, B.J., Sipe, T.A. and Thacker, B.S. (2000), “Meta-analysis of observational studies in epidemiology”, American Medical Association, Vol. 283 No. 15, pp. 2008-2012.

Tseng, M.L., Lin, C., Lin, R.C.W., Wu, K.J. and Sriphon, T. (2019), “Ecotourism development in Thailand: community participation leads to the value of attractions using linguistic preferences”, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 231, pp. 1319-1329.

UNESCO (1996), Biosphere Reserves: The Seville Strategy and the Statutory Frame-Work of the World Network, UNESCO, Paris.

Wang, H., Yang, Z., Chen, L., Yang, J. and Li, R. (2010), “Minority community participation in tourism: a case of Kanas Tuva villages in Xinjiang, China”, Tourism Management, Vol. 31, pp. 759-764.

Wattage, P. and Mardle, S. (2005), “Stakeholder preferences towards conservation versus development for a wetland in Sri Lanka”, Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 77, pp. 122-132.

Wehn, U. and Almomani, A. (2019), “Incentives and barriers for participation in community-based environmental monitoring and information systems: a critical analysis and integration of the literature”, Environmental Science and Policy, Vol. 101, pp. 341-357.

Xu, J., Chen, L., Lu, Y. and Fu, B. (2006), “Local people’s perceptions as decision support for protected area management in Wolong biosphere reserve, China”, Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 78, pp. 362-372.

Yung, K.H.E. and Chan, W.H.E. (2011), “Problem issues of public participation in built-heritage conservation: two controversial cases in Hong Kong”, Habitat International, Vol. 35 No. 3, pp. 457-466.

Further reading

Dearden, J. (2014), English as a Medium of Instruction – A Growing Global Phenomenon, British Council.

Horwich, H.R. and Lyon, J. (1995), “Multi-level conservation and education at the community Baboon sanctuary, Belize, conserving wildlife”, in Jacobson, S.K. (Ed.), International Education and Communication Approaches, Columbia University, New York, NY, pp. 235-253.

Novikova, L.A., Pankina, D.V. and Mironova, A.A. (2017), “The dynamics of the Central Russian meadow steppes and the problem of their preservation”, Biol Bull Russ Acad Sci, Vol. 44, pp. 506-510.

Roldan, M.A., Duit, A. and Schultz, L. (2019), “Does stakeholder participation increase the legitimacy of nature reserves in local communities? Evidence from 92 biosphere reserves in 36 countries”, Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 188-203.

Acknowledgements

Authors would like to acknowledge Universiti Sains Malaysia (Grant no: 1001/PPBGN/8016053) and Government of Malaysia, Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources (Grant no: 203/PPBGN/6501010/K130) for their financial support to conduct this study. Also, special thanks to the management and staff of Penang Hill Corporation and Habitat Penang Hill for their cooperation during the research.

Corresponding author

Andrew Ebekozien is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: ebekoandy45@yahoo.com

About the authors

Professor Mastura Jaafar is a Professor in the Quantity Surveying Section, School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. She holds a PhD and MSc from the Universiti Sains Malaysia. Her research, publication and supervision interests include strategic management in the construction, housing and tourism industries, entrepreneurship, project management and procurement management. She has produced several books, chapters in books, international refereed journal papers and conference papers.

Andrew Ebekozien PhD is a Research Assistant in the Quantity Surveying Section, School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. He holds a PhD in Cost Management and a Master of Technology in Quantity Surveying from Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia and the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, respectively. A former Head, Quantity Surveying Department (2012–2016), Auchi Polytechnic, Nigeria. His research interests, supervision and teaching include housing, construction economics, construction management, tourism and construction measurement. He is the author/co-author of 41nos published/accepted national/international peer-reviewed journal articles. Amidst, 25nos journal articles are indexed in one of the following databases: SCOPUS/Social Science Citation Index (SSCI: Web of Sciences)/Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI)/EBSCO.

Dr Diana Mohamad is a staff in the School of Housing, Building and Planning, USM, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. She holds a PhD in Telecommuting and Travel Behaviour and MSc. In Academics Travel Pattern from the University of South Australia and the Universiti Sains Malaysia, respectively. She is a member of the Malaysian Institute of Planners. She has produced several chapters in books, international refereed journal papers and conference papers.

Ahmad Salman is a PhD student in the School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia.

Related articles