|Bleines, D.B.; Williams, S.; Rhydderch, M.,
|Counting on success: Implementing a new approach to visitor data collection and usage in a national environmental public sector body
|The 10th MMV Conference: Managing outdoor recreation experiences in the Anthropocene – Resources, markets, innovations
|Monitoring visitor use is critical for Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to protect ecosystems and to manage green space adequately, whilst maximising visitors wellbeing and enjoyment benefits. This research aims to explore the effectiveness of different types of people counters used concurrently on NRW managed land in the Summer of 2021. It presents an opportunity to review the type of data collected and its application to support decision-making. This is timely given the changing societal backdrop pre-empted by Covid-19 and its associated impacts on nature and wellbeing.Currently NRW uses sensor and data counting technologies to measure visitor numbers. These monitor trail and car park usage in more than 120 sites managed by NRW across Wales.These technologies do not need main power, mobile phone signal or WIFI and have been in place since 2004.This emerging research is necessary to address four questions: Is the data produced by these counters still fit for purpose? Has the purpose itself changed? How is disruption minimised in longitudinal data collection when switching from one technology to another? How can technology be futureproofed in the face of rapid advances over the next 15 years?The anticipated outcomes from this work will be the selection of the most appropriate visitor counter technology capable of informing NRW recreational and wellbeing policy and practice across Wales. Having this in place will better enable NRW to discharge its regulatory, advisory, land manager and wellbeing provider roles for current and future generations.
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