Crowding in mountain protected areas by Tatra Mountain Rescue Service – Voluntary Corp
CROWDING IN MOUNTAIN PROTECTED AREAS by Tatra Mountain Rescue Service – Voluntary Corp
Project Status: June 2018 – May 2019
Contact: Juraj Svajda
Email – Facebook
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
Crowding was measured using quantitative methods based on normative theory. Normative theory suggests that people have a threshold for the number of individuals they encounter in a given setting. If this number is exceeded, it is then likely that the individual will feel some level of crowding. Recent studies have used photographs to measure crowding conditions as a method for estimation. High and concentrated levels of visitor use may negatively affect the quality of visitor experience.
Crowding in Slovakia’s national parks is starting to be a problem. Places like High Tatras, Pieniny or Slovak Paradise National Park are witnessing such an influx of tourism that they are considering new management techniques. Understanding the social science of the situation through crowding studies assists park management in developing strategies for resource protection, recreation management, conflict prevention, safety issues and user satisfaction.
The purpose of this project is to explore feelings and perceptions of crowding at the most and heavily visited places in High Tatras NP (Rysy peak and Priecne sedlo). We would like to investigate exact number of visitors in these areas by automatic counters. For better understanding of spatial and time behavior of visitors we plan to document trip characteristics of individual users by GPS loggers. Other qualitative data of visitors including theirs feelings of crowding will be obtained by questionnaires and photo elicitation to set standards, level of acceptance and visitor preferences.
Results are valuable as a complementary source of information for park management. This model will provide data for managers to estimate the number of visitors that could be shifted from most visited places to alternate sites without causing unacceptable crowding and additional resource impacts.
RELATIONSHIP WITH LOCAL COMMUNITIES
Members of our organization are local people from region and they will be participating in data collection. Accident prevention, nature conservation and visitor education including information also applies to the activity of Tatra Mountain Rescue Service – Voluntary Corp. Because study places are situated in exposed terrain with technical aids, where queues are created with long waiting time, our project will also contribute to improve security of visitors.
COLLABORATION WITH LOCAL AUTHORITIES
The results will be interesting for the management of the protected area and therefore the implementation of the project will require cooperation with the national park administration, state forests and professional mountain rescue service.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR MOUNTAINEERING AND MOUNTAIN-BASED SPORTS
Our project wants to help with the results for better arguments for decision-making. It should be a contribution to the current debate on the development of mountain protected areas, which takes place rather than the way of a quality experience, by continually increasing the quantity, which also results in the impacts described.
June 2018 – September 2018:
Field work – visitors monitoring (counters, gps loggers, questionnaires)
October 2018 – April 2019:
Office work – statistical evaluation of data, interpretation, proposing management strategies and addressing problems
Dissemination of results, scientific publications and communication of results with public
Funding needs to cover only the purchase of the necessary technical equipment. The collection and evaluation of data will take place in our volunteering activities.
1 x automatic counters (2,500 Eur)
50 x GPS loggers (2,500 Eur)
Totally: 5,000 Eur
OPPORTUNITIES FOR VOLUNTEERS
The problem we want to address is common to many mountain areas, so results can be applied elsewhere. Volunteers will have an irreplaceable role in collecting field data.
HOW WE COMMUNICATE
We plan to communicate the results of the project in the last phase. Not only local media but also regional and national levels will be addressed through articles, press releases, the web and the social media. UIAA plays an important role in the dissemination of the results within the MPA platform.