The role education and interpretation in managing
The following strategy
for communicating with recreational participants is based upon
the lessons learnt from the Navigate with Nature project.
Step 1: Identification
of key interest groups and messages
This will include
those most affected by management decisions.
Step 2: Consultation
This should take
place before initial material development and continue during
development of material.
Step 3: Identification
of most appropriate information media
This may include
leaflets, flyers, booklets, web sites, signs etc.
Step 4: Identification
of most effective method of distribution
Direct mail out
to recreational participants is an ideal method, particularly
when carried out with the co-operation of clubs or industry.
Distribution through recreation-related shops, information centres,
tourist attractions, clubs etc. are other effective methods.
Inserts and features in recreational magazines and local newspapers
can be a way of targeting participants not affiliated to clubs.
The information could also be displayed at local events, whether
related to nature conservation or a particular recreational
Step 5: Monitoring
Uptake rates of
material is one key indicator of the extent to which a target
audience has been reached. However, follow-up evaluation by
questionnaire or through contact with user clubs is essential
to understand the participants’ reaction to the material and
whether it will have any influence on their behaviour.
Step 6: Project
The strategy should
remain flexible so that the findings of the evaluation stage
can be built into the future development of the overall programme.
One of the key aims of the government’s Sustainable
Development Strategy (DoE, 1994) is ‘to ensure that leisure
activities are a major means of creating awareness of, and appreciation
for, the environment’. It is important to stress that for many
people, recreational activities are the only means by
which they access the natural environment. Leisure activities
should therefore be seen as a major opportunity to engage with
the public on environmental issues in general and on specific
policy issues, such as the Habitats Directive. This will help
to engender popular support for the management policies.
Whether the management technique employed at
the site is voluntary or regulatory, education and interpretation
are a valuable tool in achieving policy goals. Effective awareness
raising at a site level can be used to overcome some of the
obstacles associated with the acceptance and support of new
management schemes. Figure 8.1 illustrates this process.
It is important that the message of ‘if it
is not broken, don’t fix it’ is central to communications with
end users. If new management measures are required for a site
a clear and thorough explanation should be given as to why a
particular course of action has been chosen. This should include
an explanation of why new methods are required, what they hope
to achieve, what the implications are for the end user and,
perhaps most importantly, what direct benefits there are for
the environment and also the end user.
The effective targeting of educational information
is of vital importance. Monitoring an educational programme
is also an essential tool to ensure it is providing the required
information in an effective format. This is paramount for recreation,
given its susceptibility to changes in social, political and
Entrenched behaviour can be difficult to change.
Participants may feel that where they have been using a location
for some time they should not have to change their activity,
particularly where they see no obvious evidence of damage. Such
views may be entirely understandable and this is where education
can play a key role in increasing peoples’ awareness.
Appropriate and well-targeted education is
a key step in the effective implementation of any management
scheme and is, therefore, a core element in good practice. Often
in the planning and budgetary process for management insufficient
thought is given to the role of education. As a result limited
funds may be available for staff or resources for education.
Nonetheless, with creative planning, ingenuity and dedication,
marine interpretation and education can be extremely effective
in developing public support and understanding of the marine
environment and therefore commitment to management schemes.
1. Green Boat Campaign,
The Canadian Coast
Guards Green Boat Programme is a multi-faceted initiative
to educate recreational boaters about reducing their environmental
impact. The centrepiece is a boat user guide, Protecting
the Aquatic Environment, which has been in circulation for
two years. Over 100,000 copies in five editions (including a
French version) have been produced and circulated and there
are outstanding requests for another 70,000 copies. The key
to the program's success has been attributed to the development
of numerous formal and informal partnerships with a wide range
At the very centre
of the Canadian Coast Guards approach is the belief that protecting
the marine environment is a shared responsibility and that the
best way to protect the environment is through a collective
effort from all sectors of the boating community. Direction
is provided through Recreational Boating Advisory Councils which
have been established across the country to advise the Coast
Guard on the development of services, policies and strategies
for minimising the impact of recreational boating on the marine
The Green Boat programme consists
of several components, including publications and a number of
initiatives, including the Green Boat Check - a voluntary
environmental inspection of craft and the distribution of 'Enviro-kits'
- free bilge absorbent pads supplied as part of an Environmental
2. The Ride Smart
Manual, Rider’s Guide to Personal Watercraft, Canada
‘Ride Smart’ provides
personal watercraft users with a user friendly manual containing
all the necessary information for undertaking the activity in
a safe and responsible manner. The information contained within
the booklet was compiled from research, publications, interviews,
observations of the craft in use and, most importantly, from
co-operation with personal watercraft manufacturers and users.
The manual provides
useful information on the craft itself, how to ride it and how
to return to shore. It also provides users with information
regarding wash and speed restrictions on Canadian waterways.
The manual is produced
in a user friendly format with humorous illustrations to promote
the core messages contained within the text. In addition, it
provides information on personal watercraft training courses
3. Navigate with
The Navigate with
Nature project provides an example of the way in which non-affiliated
participants may be targeted. It is a joint initiative of the
British Marine Industries Federation (BMIF) and UK CEED and
is also sponsored by the DETR, RSPB, Perkins and Marina Developments
Ltd. It focuses on reaching recreational boat users through
industry. Whether members of clubs or not, most users will at
some stage interface with the industry which provides the boats
and equipment necessary to take part in recreational boating
activities. Interestingly, this has proved a particularly effective
way of targeting Personal Watercraft users, from whom the highest
proportionate response was received in the Navigate with Nature
The project provides
user friendly information on issues regarding the use and cleaning
and maintenance of recreational craft. Additionally, it seeks
to improve user awareness and appreciation for the natural environment
by citing important information about the marine environment.
Although run at a national level, it is based on a series of
site-specific project areas involving locally targeted and distributed
information. To date the following areas have been targeted:
and Tees estuaries
and Suffolk Broads and Coasts
In addition, nationally
focused inland and coastal material has been produced for distribution
at national boating events and to supplement the demand for
information generated through the public relations element of
the project. An integral part of the project has been detailed
research and monitoring of boat user attitudes in case study
areas. This has focused on the attitude of boat users to the
environment, their attitude to the Navigate with Nature programme
and behavioural changes that it may have inspired. A high proportion
of boat users has responded to mailed out questionnaires and
their views on the project have helped shape its development.