This project is looking at conservation ecology through the lens of human use and how humans manage nature. Specifically, by testing communication measures in National Park settings and assessing the values and what’s at stake in applying measures to facilitate sustainable human use of nature. Managers have often turned to the communication process of interpretation as a key tool in managing the balance between tourism-/recreation development and environmental protection. Interpretation in park settings is understood to contribute to the protection of the natural and cultural environment through describing (accepted) meanings of places or enriching visitors’ understanding of a place, while at the same time enhancing visitor enjoyment and satisfaction. Previous research has revealed that interpretive programs can enhance visitors’ understanding of conservation issues and contribute to development of pro-environmental attitudes and norms. But how people actually view their own impacts and their relation to the natural environment in connection with their behavior has gotten little research attention. In my PhD project I focus on human actions that are intended to strengthen good relations with nature by looking at waste management at tree damages in connection with campfires in the Norwegian National Park, Femundsmarka. The project argue that by uncovering meaningful human-nature relations, we can focus on communication framing that enhances visitors’ capacity to gather and respond to information in a different and hopefully more sustainable way.
In 2022 a review protocol has been published in the journal Environmental Evidence (Selvaag et al. 2022). The literature review itself has also been carried out and submitted to the same journal. An article has been started on social media and visitor management in Femundsmarka and an article on national park management in Norway. Field work has also been planned and carried out in the summer of 2022 in Femundsmarka National Park. Waste and damage to trees in connection with camp sites were recorded. By conducted interviews (n=49) and observational studies we have gain more knowledge about waste management and camp-fire behavior. The fieldwork has provided important input for designing intervention studies for the summer of 2023. A workshop pertaining to the studied behaviors and fieldwork has been organized for the advisory committee for Femundsmarka National Park and meetings with the national park board have been held. Selvaag has completed courses in Environmental Storytelling at NTNU and the method course Situated research at UIO. Selvaag has also been an assistant teacher on the subject Nature interpretation at NMBU and participated in the summer school of Alternet in France. The project and results have been presented in several forums. Selvaag has given lectures at NMBU (nature interpretation) and INN (Nature-based tourism and ecotourism) and presentations at the IASNR conference in Costa Rica, visitor management seminar at NMBU and Pathways conference in the Netherlands. The last month will be spent writing a text on conceptual ideas and methods used in this project and starting the planning of measures to be tested in Femundsmarka to reduce waste and damage to trees from camp-fires in 2023.