A child engaged in outdoor recreation in a protected area in Sweden.

Outdoor recreation planning and management in protected areas

At a time when more and more people are heading out to explore and connect to nature, outdoor recreation needs to be intentionally brought into the everyday management of protected areas. When outdoor recreation and conservation are mutually supportive, it generates benefits for locals and for visitors, which in turn increases public support for the protected area.

Teaming up with experts from Swedish protected area management authorities, FOS Europe has developed guidance that supports you in providing great experiences for the people who choose to spend their time at your site, while still protecting the biodiversity you care about.

The guidance has been developed by people from both outdoor recreation and conservation disciplines. It helps teams collaborate across these two fields by seeing mutual benefits and speaking the same language.

Outdoor recreation through the lens of the Conservation Standards

The approach is built around the CMP Conservation Standards, an adaptive management framework widely adopted by the conservation community.

The guidance explains how to assess an area's overall outdoor recreation situation. It introduces the concept of outdoor recreation targets, a special type of cultural ecosystem service that your team chooses to maintain or enhance. Building on that, it helps you bring outdoor recreation into all steps of your Conservations Standards cycle.

A cyclist engaged in outdoor recreation in a snowy protected area.

Looking at outdoor recreation through the lens of the Conservation Standards gives you a robust, evidence-based framework for designing, executing and monitoring the effect of strategies aimed at both visitor and site management and the protection of biodiversity. Using this guidance can help you to:

  • Assess how and why people are using your protected area
  • Identify conflicts between different types of users that require management
  • Understand what visitor infrastructure to maintain, develop or deprioritise when faced with limited resources
  • Develop a nuanced understanding of how and to what extent recreational use threatens your conservation targets
  • Define strategies to guide visitors in a way that enhances their experiences while decreasing conflicts and threats to your conservation targets

In this way, outdoor recreation and conservation can work together to generate benefits for the people who live in or visit the protected area. Ultimately, these mutual and aligned benefits can boost the public’s approval of your protection efforts.

Find out more by downloading the guidance (PDF, 4.5 MB). The guidance is also available in Swedish (PDF, 3.6 MB).

Watch the webinar recording

Get a guided tour of the approach by watching the recording of the launch webinar. You will learn how to integrate outdoor recreation into the Conservation Standards and how the approach can help create better experiences for visitors while still protecting the biodiversity you care about.

Contact us

Want to dive even deeper? Thinking about how to apply the method in your context? Contact FOS Europe's Nico Boenisch at nico@fosonline.org

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