Environmental Management

, Volume 62, Issue 5, pp 877–891 | Cite as

Building Stakeholder Awareness and Engagement Strategy to Enhance Biosphere Reserve Performance and Sustainability: The Case of Kien Giang, Vietnam

  • Chu Van CuongEmail author
  • Peter Dart
  • Nigel Dudley
  • Marc Hockings


Local application of the biosphere reserve concept in Kien Giang, Vietnam was examined to see how it compared with other biosphere reserves both in Vietnam and internationally and from that to assess the level of adoption and what could be limiting processes. This was undertaken mainly through qualitative document analysis, field surveys, and extensive interviews of stakeholders. While the designation the Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve and establishment of the management regulation conformed with the conceptual model and criteria outlined by UNESCO, the practical implementation has been inadequate to achieve the desired outcomes of the biosphere reserve concept. There was limited public awareness and understanding of the biosphere reserve approach because of poorly developed communication channels. Top-down, state-control based on a strong sectoral approach to biosphere reserve planning and management hindered stakeholder and community participation. Weak engagement from the Province as the designated lead agency in biosphere reserve governance limited cross-sectoral collaboration in the delivery of the biosphere reserve mandated functions. External projects were perceived by community stakeholders to have only a temporary impact on biosphere reserve operation because of their small, short-term scale with the project maintaining control over funding and design of individual activities. Without proper investment in public awareness and improvement of Biosphere Reserve governance leadership, the desire for development of strategic public–private partnerships to support implementation remains unfulfilled and the Biosphere Reserve model will, as a consequence, contribute little to the long-term biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development in the region.


  • Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve theoretically follows the international guidelines but has weak management practice.

  • Limited understanding of the BR concept hinders operation and management.

  • Top-down, state control constrains stakeholder participation and biosphere reserve governance.

  • Small-scale and short-term interventions by external projects are perceived to contribute little to biosphere long-term operation and sustainability of the biosphere reserves.

  • Improved public awareness and engagement is needed to build community participation in Biosphere Reserve operation and fulfilment of the aims of the designation.


Biosphere Reserve Stakeholder awareness Stakeholder engagement Biosphere reserve performance Sustainability Kien Giang 



We thank Kien Giang BRMB, Department managers and staff, and local people for their support and participation in the group meetings, interviews, and stakeholder workshop. This work was funded by the Australian Government Endeavour Scholarship Award, GIZ/DFAT—Conservation and Development of the Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve Project, and School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Queensland.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Supplementary material

267_2018_1094_MOESM1_ESM.docx (4.3 mb)
Supplementary Information


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chu Van Cuong
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Peter Dart
    • 3
  • Nigel Dudley
    • 4
    • 5
  • Marc Hockings
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Tam Dao National ParkTam DaoVietnam
  3. 3.School of Agriculture and Food SciencesUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  4. 4.Equilibrium ResearchBristolUK
  5. 5.Industry Fellow, School of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  6. 6.UNEP World Conservation Monitoring CentreCambridgeUK

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