We will search for all available evidence relevant to the questions, whether published or unpublished, including both peer reviewed papers and relevant grey literature.
The general search will be conducted using the following online databases:
ISI Web of knowledge
International Development Research Center (IDRC) digital library
Public library of science
Directory of Open Access Journals
Social Sciences research network
Index to Theses Online
Web search engines
Due to repeatability, the web search will be mainly used for reference cross-checks. Following web search engines will be used:
http://www.scirus.com (web sources only)
Only the first 50 hits of each search will be screened.
Organisational website search
Specific searches will be conducted using the following websites of organisations specialised in the field of (forest) PA management and governance. Where possible, only publication sections of the websites will be used for search. List of websites was compiled from previous Systematic Reviews on effectiveness of PAs and community-based conservation [32–37] and completed by including websites of organisations well-known in the field of natural resource governance, forestry and PAs.
Reference lists of relevant review studies will be searched for relevant primary articles.
The following English search terms and their various combinations using Boolean operators (AND, OR), wild-cards (for any group of characters (*) or for a single character ($)) will be used to perform search in the databases and Internet search engines. Search strings will be adapted to different formats and requirements of databases and search engines to be explored. Specifically, if a website does not allow for complex search strings and Boolean operators, we will use simple search terms such as “protected area”, “governance”, “park”, “reserve”, “biodiversity”, “conservation”.
Search string for PA governance and management regimes
“NGO*” OR (non$governmental and organi$ation) OR “private nature reserve*” OR “privat*” OR “governme*” OR “community conserved area*” OR “indigenous” or (“comanag*” or “co-manag*”) OR “collaborative” OR “decentrali*” OR “devolut*” OR “joint management” OR (delegat* AND authorit*) OR (“integrated and conservation and development”) or “ICDP*” or “governance” or “self-governance” or “institution*” or “rule*” or “norm*” or “polit*” or “polic*” or “paper park*” OR “participat*” or “accountab*” or “legitima*” or ”compliance” or “enforcement*” or “coercion*” or “trust*” or “conflict*” or “exclusion*” or “access” or “local elite*” or “elite capture” or “revenue$sharing”
“protected area*” OR “nature reserve*” OR park* OR “monument*” OR “wilderness area*” OR “world heritage site*” or “sanctuar*” or “refug*” or “biosphere reserve*” or “protected landscape” or “management area*” or “sacred forest*” or “sacred grove*”
Search string for social outcomes
“attitude*” OR “behavi*” OR “perception*” OR “belief*” OR “perspective*” OR “opinion*” OR “view*”
Search string for ecological outcomes
“conserv*” or “deforest*” or “degrad*” or “biodiversity” or desert* or “threaten” or “leakage*” or (“spillover*” or “spill-over*”) or “reforest*” or “afforest*” or (“re-growth” or “regrowth”) Or “forest clearance” or “land use change” or “land cover change” or “loss*”
We will combine search strings as follows: 1 AND (2 OR 3).
Search strings developed above are the result of numerous iterations performed in ISI Web of Knowledge database. Full record of iterations has been kept and will be further developed while advancing the search. Citations will be imported into an Endnote library and online systematic review software EPPI-reviewer 4.0 . Duplicates will be deleted.
Study inclusion criteria
Relevant documents will be selected by application of inclusion criteria. Inclusion criteria will be first applied to the document title, after to the abstract and in the final phase, to the whole document.
To filter studies based on abstracts, two reviewers will apply inclusion criteria. Repeatability of the application of inclusion criteria will be inspected using Kappa statistics on a sample of abstracts to assess the level of agreement between two reviewers. In case of kappa < 0.6, inclusion criteria will be discussed, re-interpreted and adjusted if necessary. After this procedure is done, only one reviewer will apply inclusion criteria to the rest of the studies.
Relevant subject populations: Biodiversity indicators within and human populations living in and/or around forest PAs.
Relevant interventions/phenomena of interest: Forest PAs under government, co-managed or joint, private and community modes of governance worldwide.
Relevant comparators: comparisons among different interventions (governance regimes). They will follow the appropriate study design explained below. Studies without relative comparators may be included into analysis as well. Comparators reported within the qualitative study can be created using perceptions or reconstructing the memories of respondents. If present in the study, constructed comparators where external data sets or models are applied to develop scenarios for comparison will be also included into our analysis.
Changes or differences in attitudes of local stakeholders towards focal PA governance, authority and/or management practices;
Changes or differences in level of conservation-oriented behaviour necessary to decrease the threats to natural resources;
Changes or difference in deforestation rate, biodiversity level within a forest ecosystem, maintenance of forest cover and forest density, condition, health (including fires);
Social, institutional and ecological changes on the local level that may include for example leakage (i.e. increased pressures on resources shifted outside a focal forest PA) or policy side effects (i.e. positive or negative impacts of a policy instrument on non-focal sectors and activities).
To be included into our analysis, a study has to report on at least two types of outcomes.
Relevant types of study design: Empirical studies using qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods that can be designed as control-intervention site comparisons/case control study, cohort study, case series, cross sectional study, interrupted time series, Before-After/Control-Intervention (BACI design), randomized control trials/control trials.
In case of multiple evidence sources for one PA, data will be combined but the most recent evidence will be prioritised.
Language: Studies published in English.
Following studies will be excluded:
Studies with a focus on PAs that do not meet the previously mentioned definition of Forest PAs . This definition is provided in the IUCN Guidelines on use of PA management categories and we will follow and consult it for further clarifications and detailed interpretation.
Studies with a focus on conservation of a single or a group of species within forest PAs.
Potential reasons for heterogeneity and effect modifiers
Set of effect modifiers (predictor variables) that can cause variation in the outcomes are expected to be as follows:
Governance and decision-making characteristics: scale of decision-making; individual versus multi-actor decision-making; nature of stakeholders’ participation; level and nature of collaboration among stakeholders;
Level of resource access and use by the local actors;
Presence of a local leader;
Source of PA funding;
National context: corruption and illegality, development level, income inequality;
Human population size in and around PAs;
Type of ecosystem and climatic conditions;
Proximity of the forest PA to the urban areas roads, settlements;
Time since PA establishment;
More effect modifiers may be recorded and extracted from the primary studies.
Study quality assessment
Under study quality assessment we refer to aspects of study design important both for reducing susceptibility to bias and ensuring validity with respect to the question. Depending on the methodology of a study, two quality assessment strategies may be applied:
Quantitative studies: Quantitative studies will assessed based on the score assigned to each of following criteria: 1) appropriateness of control cases and presence of valid counterfactual, 2) controlled for and/or minimized confounding factors, 3) study design category (from highest to lowest score): randomized control trial, non-randomized control trial, BACI (before/after/control/impact) design, interrupted time series study, case control study, cohort study, case series, cross sectional study, 4) methodology: clarity and completeness of reporting . We expect that the (non)randomized control trial studies and full BACI design might be less represented in the PA literature , as it is difficult to meet these study design requirements in conservation policy assessment due to various reasons (non-random allocation of conservation interventions across the landscape, counterfactual thinking is not widespread in conservation assessment exercises, evaluation is usually not a built-in component of a conservation project design, etc. (see :483)).
Qualitative studies: Qualitative studies will be assessed using Harden’s methodology  applied in Rees et al.  and Pullin et al. . This assessment tool uses eight study validity criteria focusing on 1) study design and methods (rigour of sampling, data collection and analysis); 2) findings (how well presented data support findings, quality of findings); 3) use of methods to assess the respondents’ perspectives and experiences. A score range will be assigned to each of these criteria. A Qualitative Appraisal Tool  may be combined for additional assessment details and to provide guidance for a more structured quality appraisal exercise. This tool is a checklist composed of the ten questions connected to study rigour, credibility and relevance of findings.
Depending on the variability of study quality, decision for the study inclusion may be based on the overall summary score assigned to each study.
Data will be extracted from included studies and recorded in a spreadsheet with pre-determined coding. Extracted information across all included studies will be as follows.
Objectives and focus of the study;
Study design and methodology for data collection;
Reported study biases;
Study conclusions including underlying factors of social / ecological change reported.
Scale of decision-making (variable with 3 levels: decision-making out of state (devolution), decision-making vested in lower level/local authorities (decentralization), centralized decision-making);
Individual versus multi-actor decision-making described through i) Diversification of stakeholders’ categories (2 levels: one versus multi-actor); ii) Nature of stakeholders’ participation (4 levels: pro-active, consultancy, passive, none);
Collaboration among stakeholders in decision-making described through i) Level of collaboration (3 levels: formal, informal, none); ii) Nature of collaboration (3 levels: horizontal (internal), vertical (external), multilevel);
Institutional, social, economical and political context in which PA governance is embedded
Resource ownership (state, local, private, mixed);
Level of resource access and use by the local actors measured through 1) IUCN PA management category (1 to 6); 2) Local community dependency on the forest resources (3 levels: high, moderate, low);
Presence of a local leader (yes/no);
Source of PA funding (4 levels: international, national/governmental, local/communal, private);
National context: corruption and illegality (Governance index score), country development level (Human Development Index score), income inequality (GINI score)
Human population size around PAs (high, medium, low);
Proximity to the urban areas, roads, settlements (high, medium, low);
Comparator type (if any)
Outcome (independent variables)
Attitudinal success measured through (level of changes/difference in) attitudes of local stakeholders towards focal PA governance, authority and/or management practices (3 levels: high, moderate, low);
Behavioural success measured through (level of changes/difference of) level of conservation-oriented behaviour necessary to decrease the threats to natural resources (3 levels: high, moderate, low);
Ecological success measured through (level of changes/difference in) deforestation rate, biodiversity level, maintenance of forest cover and forest density, condition, health (3 levels: high, moderate, low);
Spillover effects in surrounding social-ecological systems i.e. social, institutional and ecological changes/differences on the local level that may include leakage or policy side effects (3 levels: high, moderate, low);
Time since PA establishment (in years);
PA size (in km2);
Type of ecosystem and climatic conditions (temperate, tropical, boreal);
Synthesis will encompass narrative and summary findings of each study and it will be presented in a table and visualised graphically. Attitudinal, behavioural, ecological success and spillover effects will be estimated based on the aforementioned criteria of performance and inferred from the (valid) evidence reported in included studies (using descriptive levels: low, moderate, high).
In order to discern the underlying conditions and determinants of PA success, qualitative and quantitative information to be extracted from the empirical studies will be integrated by pre-determined coding (as shown above under section “Study Quality Assessment”) and creation of ordinal/categorical variables that will be used in multivariate statistical analyses. Independent variables in the analyses will be 4 measures of success: attitudinal, behavioural, ecological and spillover effects. Dependent variables will be governance characteristics, institutional, economical, political and social setting (effect modifiers). The analyses will be done separately for each governance mode. Finally, comparisons will be done at the final phase and based on the regression results.
We will not infer conclusions about the comparisons between governance regimes if original studies had different counterfactual outcomes i.e. we will not contrast studies that estimated counterfactual of no protection versus counterfactual of a different governance mode. Data extraction and synthesis will be additionally refined during the review process.
In case of missing data in the included studies, we will contact authors and request relevant information.
This review will report methodologies for assessment of forest PAs governance effectiveness, data gaps and potential for future empirical research.