Public perceptions of Niagara Parks – the project is being led by Dr. Jessica Blythe. Her research aims to understand how residents and visitors value Niagara Parks. This project emerged from the ongoing Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESSI), which is a five-year partnership between ESRC and Niagara Parks that aims to use expertise and resources from both organizations to increase environmental stewardship. During a team meeting, both NPC and ESRC teams realized that there was an opportunity to explore how people value Niagara Parks. The research part of the project is being conducted by Dr. Jessica Blythe, Dr. Julia Baird, Dr. Ryan Plummer and Dr. Gillian Dale. The communication side of the project is being led by Amanda Smits and Erin Daly. Here is a brief interview with her on the progress of the project:
Please tell us more about the project
The project aims to provide park managers and decision-makers with data on the ways that residents, domestic and international tourists value and connect with Niagara Parks ecosystems.
Could you highlight the importance of the project?
Effective management of iconic ecosystems – like Niagara Parks – requires more than a comprehensive understanding of ecological components of the system. Understanding the human dimensions is also essential for long-term planning, adaptive management and successful environmental stewardship. Through this project, we hope to highlight some of the human dimensions of Niagara Parks.
Could you briefly outline your approach?
In the late summer and early fall 2019, more than 220 people were surveyed by myself, Angela Malette, Seyi Obasi, and Samantha Witkowski. Using tablets, we survey people in Niagara Parks. We talked to a range of visitors from residents to international tourists.
What are the implications of research outcomes for the NPC?
We hope that this research will support park managers and decision-makers in incorporating the human dimensions of Niagara Parks into their planning and management. We also aim to contribute to ongoing research about the importance of people’s connections to nature for leveraging sustainability outcomes.