Opportunities for Redistribution and Area Planning in Parks A Case Study at Bruce Peninsula National Park
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Some national parks in Canada are experiencing growing visitor numbers and changes in visitor demographics. Bruce Peninsula National Park, located in Tobermory Ontario is one such park experiencing this phenomenon. Increased visitation at Bruce Peninsula National Park is encouraged by the Parks Canada Agency to keep revenue high as these earnings account for up to 80% of a park’s funding (Parks Canada, 2014d). With these changes come problems of out-dated infrastructure no longer keeping up to demand, unknown status of whether social and ecological carrying capacities are exceeded, and issues of crowding potentially affecting visitor experiences. Management at Bruce Peninsula National Park must determine social, ecological, and economic carrying capacities to determine sustainable thresholds and indicators to influence management decisions. One form of social monitoring is visitor surveys. The most important method used to determine whether visitors are feeling crowded is a visitor information survey specifying visitor motivations and expectations. If visitor surveys find demographics of visitors are feeling crowded, measures must be taken by management to combat this problem to retain high visitor numbers. Monitoring ecological carrying capacity must also be employed by park management to ensure ecological integrity is being maintained through increases of visitation. These values are influenced by park zoning, identification of critical elements such as species at risk, and knowing what areas are best experienced at different levels of crowding. The most common and successful techniques used to set and maintain social and ecological carrying capacities and identify perceptions of crowding include setting use levels, area restrictions, and temporal and spatial redistribution. Using these methods at Bruce Peninsula National Park may take pressure off primary visitor nodes, improve visitor experience, and retain ecological integrity. Management at the park must employ these techniques to ensure that the park is managed effectively, ecological integrity is maintained, and positive, high quality visitor experiences are fostered. This thesis will provide insight into best management practices for redistributing visitors to reduce the potential for crowding through area planning at eight visitor nodes; specify most accepted methodologies for issuing visitor caps and carrying capacity limits using indicators and thresholds; reveal strategies that reduce crowding perceptions, including redistribution and visitor expectations, demands, and experiences; and provide temporal and spatial redistribution tactics for management to use to increase visitation while maintaining ecological integrity.