Influences of Engaging in a Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation Process on Stakeholder Perceptions of Key Performance Indicators for Trails




stakeholder perceptions, participation, monitoring and evaluation, key performance indicators, trails


Trail use is growing globally. Managers confront the classic dilemma of protecting ecological integrity and providing enriching experiences. They concomitantly face the imperative for sustainability—contemporarily characterized by complexity, uncertainty, conflict, and change. Heightened levels of visitation are cause for immense concerns due to adverse impacts to the environment as well as visitor experiences. COVID-19 exacerbates these challenges as heightened levels of visitation are occurring, while managers simultaneously face decreases in conservation funding, and restrictions on protected area operations. Participatory monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) is an emerging in- novation to collaboratively address social-ecological challenges, such as issues as- sociated with trail use. This research is concerned with exploring the influences of engaging in a PM&E process on stakeholder perceptions of key performance indicators (KPIs) for trails. This study compares stakeholder perceptions of KPIs for trails before and after a PM&E workshop at the Niagara Glen Nature Reserve in Ontario, Canada. Results show that PM&E can facilitate consensus among stakeholders regarding the overall goals of management and associated KPIs for environmental management planning. Stakeholders were shown to experience a real change in their perceptions of KPIs. The PM&E process studied show that participants became more conscious of the wider social realities as well as their perceptions of trail management. The study has important implications for managers concerned with trails and sustainability, including building consensus among key stakeholders to reach management goals, enhancing localized decision making, and building capacity for management towards sustainability. Trails, as well as the wider community can ultimately benefit from participatory approaches to environmental management. Consensus-building through PM&E works to enhance decisions that account for a diversity of perspectives. Stakeholder participation in trail management increases the likelihood that local needs and priorities are met, while allowing stakeholders to build capacity and learn to effectively manage their environments. Furthermore, positive perceptions from being meaningfully involved in PM&E can ensure the support of constituents, which is imperative for the long-term success of management planning.