Positioning parks to meet the needs of 21st century society

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Moyle, BD & Weiler, B 2012, 'Positioning parks to meet the needs of 21st century society', Research Connections Newsletter, vol. 4, pp. 3-4.

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Parks are important for the conservation of global biodiversity, however ensuring their broader relevance to today’s and tomorrow’s society is also essential. Understanding how a park estate is perceived by its managers and how these perceptions are positioned and projected is an important first step in ensuring this relevance is sustained. The aim of stage 1 of this project is to explore managers’ perceptions of the market position occupied by national parks in three Australian states, specifically the benefits the three agencies seek to project to visitors and the general public. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 27 senior managers, 9 each from Parks Victoria, New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Department of Environment and Conservation in Western Australia. The Benefits Based Management framework was used to analyse and interpret the data. The three agencies were similar in their desire to project experiences designed to attract visitors to parks, foster a connection with nature and encourage social interaction and inclusion. A notable difference was a focus by managers from Parks Victoria on mental and physical health while managers from DEC WA were more focused on projecting benefits associated with the preservation of biodiversity, and associated ecosystem services. These findings, together with data from visitors and other constituent publics, will inform the remaining stages of the project, to determine how the messages of park agencies can be shifted to best position parks to meet the changing needs of 21st century society.

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