Collaborations in UNESCO Biosphere Regions/Reserves: Interagency collaboration in the Beaver Hills Biosphere versus inter-biosphere collaborations across Canada

  • Author / Creator
    Ostrem, Julie A
  • Collaboration, as both the practice of working together and building organizational resilience, is paramount to addressing the complex problems of current conservation efforts. In an attempt to balance the social and ecological worlds, UNESCO Biosphere Regions/Reserves (BRs) outline collaboration at all scales as a top priority. UNESCO BRs help encourage a harmonious relationship between people and the land through the coexistence of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development practices. As a result, the perspective of multiple stakeholders must be considered. Interagency collaboration within BRs is prioritized throughout strategic planning documents of individual BRs and the mission and vision of participating agencies. Collaboration is further encouraged between BRs themselves as UNESCO and national backbone support organizations outline inter-BR collaboration as a key objective. This research explores collaboration across local and national scales in UNESCO BRs.
    The goal of this study is to understand and enhance the potential collaborations within UNESCO BRs. This research is composed of two studies. One study explores the dynamics of interagency collaborations for environmental education and heritage interpretation within the Beaver Hills Biosphere (BHB). Managers and educators across the BHB (n=23) participated in semi-structured interviews to understand the unique drivers and barriers of collaboration within their field. These interviews covered existing mechanisms of collaboration, the potential benefits and drawbacks of collaboration, the enablers and barriers to collaboration, and recommendations for future collaboration. The other study explores the dynamics of collaboration across Canadian BRs. Practitioners of Canadian BRs (n=14) and representatives of national support organizations (n=2) were interviewed to understand the nuance of interagency collaboration within their own BR, as well as the potential for inter-BR collaborations.
    The findings from this research are discussed both theoretically as they apply to Collective Impact Theory (CIT) and Trust Theory, as well as practically through an analysis of current mechanisms of and future recommendations for collaborative processes. In both local and national collaborations, CIT has useful elements to discuss the intricacies of collaboration but is only partially applicable because of dynamic capacities. Trust theory provided an interesting lens to explore findings as local collaborations relied more on interpersonal forms of trust, like dispositional and affinitive trust, whereas national collaborations relied more heavily on procedural trust. The research findings suggest that adequate capacity, a backbone support agency, the development of subgroups, and inclusivity are observed as important enablers to collaboration across geographic scales. The research findings from this study have the potential to shed light on opportunities for progressive development through collaboration. This research also could benefit other natural resource management sectors and land-use governance, as the key outcomes are transferable to any collaborative effort involving diverse stakeholder communication.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2022
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.