Analysis of the Governance Structures in Japan’s Biosphere Reserves: Perspectives from Bottom–Up and Multilevel Characteristics

Toshinori Tanaka, Nobuhiko Wakamatsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This paper analyzes the governance structures of Biosphere Reserves (BRs) in Japan by focusing on six criteria that elucidate the main characteristics therein: general information (nomination process, year of designation, size, and population), legal frameworks, stakeholder identification, and decision-making processes (number of municipalities and role of consociation), administrative institutions (human resources, budgetary situation, and expense distribution), executed BR implementation activities, and participatory/collaborative frameworks. This research consists of a literature review, a questionnaire administered to the secretariats of seven existing BRs and follow-up interviews. Three main characteristics of BRs were identified. First, a responsible local government(s) is nominated to manage the BR rather than the central government. Consequently, BR implementation in Japan is led by those municipalities that have strong motivations for regional development using the BR concept. Second, two types of BR governance structures exist in Japan: the single municipality type and the multi-municipality type. All BRs have so called Kyougikai, a consociation for decision-making, consultation and/or collaboration among stakeholders. In the single municipality structure, the consociation includes diverse actors from private and community sectors, while in the multi-municipality structure, consociations are based in more diplomatic settings and only include members of the public sector. Third, gaps between pre/post-Seville BR implementation sites were identified. The motivations for the formation of pre-Seville BRs, which were designated in 1980 in a top–down fashion prior to an awareness of BRs, varied greatly from those BRs nominated by municipalities after 2010. The authors identified fewer administrative resources and activities associated with the pre-Seville sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-170
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Pollution


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