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Biosphere reserves from people's view


A cross-cultural study between Ukraine and Switzerland


Acceptance and success of biosphere reserves depend very much on the local populationís perception of and identification with the biosphere reserves. However, at each individual biosphere reserve various social groups - e.g. farmers, foresters, government officials, representatives of industrial businesses - are involved, holding different attitudes as well as deviating interests and ideas.

The objective of the present study is to determine the attitudes of these various social groups towards nature and nature protection. As nature conservation projects are planned and implemented in various cultural contexts, the study attempts to give an answer to the following question: Which factors are crucial for a successful establishment of biosphere reserves in different cultural contexts?

A cross-cultural analysis is to be carried out using two case studies with the intention of comparing:

  1. concepts of nature and nature protection;
  2. attitudes towards the biosphere reserve;
  3. evaluations of the impacts of the biosphere reserve on the local population;
  4. the local populationís experiences how to handle the new situation.

It is intended to compare the attitudes of the various social groups within as well as between the case studies.

The two case studies are the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve in Ukraine (established in 1993), and the Entlebuch Biosphere Reserve in Switzerland (not yet established but in position to hand in the application to UNESCO). These two biosphere reserves are similar in size and in ecological context, but they are different in the planning process. Whereas the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve in Ukraine was established in a top-down approach, not giving the local population the possibility to participate in the decision making process, the Entlebuch Biosphere Reserve in Switzerland has been planned in a bottom-up process, giving the local population the right to vote on the establishment of the proposed reserve.

This study may help to identify general and cultural-specific factors which might play an important role for the successful planning of biosphere reserves. With these results it should be possible to propose strategies to solve acceptance problems.


  • Astrid Wallner (Realisation)
  • Prof. Dr. Jürg Helbling (Supervisor)