M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentShmila Vadai Aviva
SubjectAn Assessment of Public Participation and Stakeholder
Involvement in Developing and Managing Biosphere
Reserves in Israel
Carmel and Ramat Menashe Reser
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisors PROF. Shamay Assif
ASSOCIATE PROF. Daniel Eli Orenstein
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


The Biosphere Reserve (BR) model was developed by Man and the Biosphere programme in the 1970s. It aims to promote sustainable development based on management that considers the interests of different stakeholders and involves them in decision making. The goal of the research, conducted in two BR - Carmel and Ramat Menashe, was to assess processes of public participation and stakeholder involvement and explore their impact during project   implementation.

The study consisted of two phases: First, planning theory and land use management literature was reviewed to compile a list of criteria for assessing effective processes. Second, data regarding the actual processes were collected via interviews, observations and documents. The data were evaluated according to the criteria to characterize and assess the processes.

The results revealed that in the Carmel BR, the conflict-ridden context at the outset, together with the top-down management, resulted in limited discourse and stakeholder involvement. The process focused primarily on ecological issues, while social and economic issues remained largely unaddressed. With regard to the Druze communities in particular, the process aggravated pre-existing feelings of injustice. In the Ramat Menashe BR, the process is noted for the high commitment of the Megiddo RC to it and, the awareness of the importance of active involvement and integration of interests that was developed by residents in early stages. The process was divided into three phases according to changes in composition and character of partners, their influence over the process and the changing commitment of the different stakeholders. The trend shows an increase in expert/professional involvement, seemingly at the expense of other stakeholders.

Results show that effective public involvement promotes the goal of integration of diverse interests and overall success of BR implementation. However, in both case studies, there is a need for flexibility to attract and engage a wide range of participants and to enrich the discourse according to stakeholder input. Obtaining these objectives improves cooperation, promotes mutual learning and strengthens overall governance of the BR. Both cases show difficulty in coordinating with and gaining support from government agencies, which is yet another challenge to governance. The findings reinforce several prominent themes in the literature, particularly that environmental education should address diverse issues such as social justice and multiculturalism and this education should be directed to experts/managers/policy makers, as well as to other stakeholders. It seems that despite the evolution of the model, it is not sufficiently flexible to local-ecological conditions, and there are inherent difficulties to adapting the model to support the goals arising from local needs and expectations.