Biosphere reserves' management effectiveness-A systematic literature review and a research agenda

Research output: Journal contributionsScientific review articlesResearch


Research about biosphere reserves' management effectiveness can contribute to better understanding of the existing gap between the biosphere reserve concept and its implementation. However, there is a limited understanding about where and how research about biosphere reserves' management effectiveness has been conducted, what topics are investigated, and which are the main findings. This study addresses these gaps in the field, building on a systematic literature review of scientific papers. To this end, we investigated characteristics of publications, scope, status and location of biosphere reserves, research methods and management effectiveness. The results indicate that research is conceptually and methodologically diverse, but unevenly distributed. Three groups of papers associated with different goals of biosphere reserves were identified: capacity building, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. In general, each group is associated with different methodological approaches and different regions of the world. The results indicate the importance of scale dynamics and trade-offs between goals, which are advanced as important leverage points for the success of biosphere reserves. Building on the gaps identified in the literature, a research agenda is proposed, focusing on the need to investigate mechanisms for holistic research, outcomes and trade-offs, transformations for social-ecological fit and institutions for integrated management across scales.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5497
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number12
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - 01.07.2020

    Research areas

  • Biodiversity conservation, Biosphere reserve, Leverage points, Management effectiveness, Research agenda, Social-ecological systems, Sustainability science, Sustainable development, Systematic literature review, Trade-offs
  • Ecosystems Research
  • Transdisciplinary studies