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Effects of place identity, place dependence, and experience-use history on perceptions of recreation impacts in a natural setting

Effects of place identity, place dependence, and experience-use history on perceptions of recreation impacts in a natural setting

Environmental Management 42(4): 647-657

It is generally accepted that recreation use in natural environments results in some degree of negative social and environmental impact. Environmental managers are tasked with mitigating the impact while providing beneficial recreation opportunities. Research on the factors that influence visitors' perceptions of environmental and social conditions is necessary to inform sound environmental management of protected natural areas. This study examines the effect of prior experience with the setting and two dimensions of place attachment (i.e., place identity and place dependence) on visitors' perceptions of three types of recreation impacts (i.e., depreciative behavior, environmental impacts, and recreation conflict). Principal components analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, and structural equation modeling were used to test the study hypotheses using data collected from 351 visitors through on-site questionnaires (response rate of 93 percent). The results show that prior experience exhibited a moderate and significant direct positive effect on place identity, place dependence, and visitors' perceptions of recreation impacts. Contrary to study hypotheses and prior research, neither place dependence nor place identity exhibited a significant effect on the dependent variables. The results show that prior experience causes visitors to be more sensitive to depreciative behaviors, environmental impacts, and recreation conflict. These findings raise concerns over potential visitor displacement and deterioration of site conditions. Implications for resource managers are discussed, which include education, modifying visitor use patterns, and site design strategies.

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Accession: 031175449

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PMID: 18535854

DOI: 10.1007/s00267-008-9143-1

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