UNESCO Biosphere Reserves (BRs) are internationally recognized model regions for sustainable development and used to conducting participation processes. This research explored the need and research design options for multi-channel participation approaches including digital systems for Austrian BRs. With the support of an online survey and a two-day virtual workshop with people from the management and stakeholders of three Austrian BRs as well as researchers from different Austrian scientific institutes, traditional participation formats were discussed. This inter- and transdisciplinary approach indicated that Austrian BRs face difficulties to reach certain target groups using traditional participation formats. Participants agreed on the need to try new approaches and that the gradual introduction of digital transformation in rural areas is important. The study shows the great need for action and research in the field of e-participation to implement multi-channel participation systems with new online components. The role and effects of electronic support for civic participation and the effects on BR management and decision-making need to be evaluated, as well as the wider impacts on local democracy and sustainable development.