On-site communication measures as a tool in outdoor recreation management: a systematic map protocol

Background

Communication is a central tool in managing the balance between outdoor recreation and environmental protection. Several studies have evaluated different communication measures in nature area case studies, but rarely are these measures compared across contexts. We systematically map the literature guided by the question, what is the evidence base of on-site communication in outdoor recreation to change human behavior towards a more sustainable direction? Taking vulnerable natural areas as our starting point, we map distribution and abundance of communication measures, study design and outcome-related themes.

Methods

The target population for our mapping review (hereafter review) are outdoor recreationists and nature-based tourists who visit natural or near-natural settings. We will examine the studies that have crafted written, oral and visual intervention measures to change behavior by using persuasion, education and information instead of legal restrictions or bans. Some examples of challenges addressed with communication measures are proper waste disposal, using designated trails, minimizing wear and tear at campsites, avoid disturbing wildlife, and encouraging appropriate and safe behavior. No geographic restrictions will be applied but we will focus on protected areas. We will search publication databases for peer-reviewed published articles using internet and specialist searches to identify grey literature in English. We will screen first by title, followed by abstract and finally full text. For each article selected for full-text screening, metadata will be extracted on key variables of interest.

The extracted data from the coding will be used to group and compare the studies to reveal knowledge gaps and knowledge clusters. We will briefly describe findings from the included studies. The review will help identify what type of human behavior researchers have addressed with communication in nature management and conservation. In addition it will highlight which communication measures are frequently used in each behavioral context. It will identify which frameworks and communication theories have been the basis for designing intervention measures and provide support to practitioners and researchers in future framing and implementation of communication measures in natural settings.

Keywords

Messaging studies, Persuasion, Human behavior, Nature-based tourism, Visitor management in national parks, Communication theory

In progress