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In both developed and developing countries, protected areas managed by public agencies and non-profit organizations play an increasingly important role in sustaining biological diversity and environmental quality, providing opportunities for informal environmental education, outdoor recreation and nature-based tourism, and contributing to economic and sustainable development.

Managing these protected areas successfully requires using biological and social science to respond to a complex mix of human-driven issues including the physical and biological impacts of recreation and tourism, competition between utilitarian and amenity uses of resources, conflict between different recreation or tourism activities, human interaction with the living elements of the environment, and inter-agency differences in management mandates and priorities, as well as global sustainability issues including air, land, and water quality, climate change, loss of habitat and species, and the introduction of non-indigenous species.

In our research, we use social science theories and principles to understand human values, attitudes, and behavior and help managers respond successfully to the challenges associated with managing protected areas and outdoor recreation.

Sample Research Projects - In Progress or Planned

  • National Visitor Use Monitoring for the U.S.D.A. Forest Service (Graefe)
  • Outdoor Recreation and Older Americans (Graefe)
  • Visitor Use Monitoring for the Allegheny National Forest (Graefe)
  • Recreation Monitoring and Evaluation on Region 6 (Oregon/Washington) National Forests (Graefe)
  • Analysis of Recreation Fee Issues in Outdoor Recreation (Graefe)
  • Evaluation of the Concessions Program for Pennsylvania State Parks (Mowen, Kerstetter, & Graefe)

Contributing Faculty

Alan Graefe
Andrew Mowen
Peter Newman
Derrick Taff
George Vahoviak