November 3 – 5, 2009. Rovaniemi, Finland.
The EUROPARC Nordic-Baltic Section 2009 autumn workshop “Monitoring and Management of Visitors and Visitor Flows” was held in Rovaniemi, Finland. The co-arrangement between Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Services and the Section secretariat was lead by Joel Erkkonen and made possible by funds from the Nordic Council of Ministers. There were 26 participants representing all Nordic-Baltic member countries but Iceland.
Presentations brought us all up to date with the current state of visitor monitoring and management in the Nordic-Baltic area. Participants enthusiastically shared successful practices as well as challenges large and small – from shortage of funds, to erroneous data caused by birds nesting in front of visitor counting devices. Key note speakers were Professor Paul Eagles from the University of Waterloo, Canada, and Maija Huhtala, Forest Research Institute (Metla), Finland. Additional international input was given by Giacomo Benelli of the Po Delta Park in Italy.
The Nordic-Baltic collaboration on visitor monitoring started around 2004 and one the most important achievements since then is the manual Visitor Monitoring in Nature Areas, published in 2007. Now, two years later, the Rovaniemi workshop was an opportunity to get feedback on the manual and discuss the way forward. Many participants reported to have its guidelines when implementing and improving counting and survey practices in their parks. With the manual thus tested and found very useful, it was concluded that the much needed common tool for measuring visitation in protected areas is in place and that the fundamental monitoring part is well underway. The next step is to improve the reporting and communication of results. Sharing this information will aid in harmonising methods, thus contributing to higher management standards and, eventually, to greater appreciation of protected areas among governments and citizens.
As the fruitful workshop came to its end, participants wanted to continue networking. Plans were therefore made to create a working group on visitor monitoring in 2010. If you are a EUROPARC member and wish to be part of such a group, please contact the Nordic-Baltic Section secretariat.
Visitor Monitoring in Nature Areas – a manual based on experiences from the Nordic and Baltic countries (ISBN 91-620-1258-4) is available in its entity in English, Swedish, Finnish and Estonian. The survey questions are also available in Norwegian. Books are available for purchase, pdf-files are available free of charge: