Monitoring Public Satisfaction in an Ecosystem Management Framework
Keywords:Ecosystem management, natural resources, public lands, recreation, satisfaction, survey.
AbstractPark and recreation agencies must address the needs and desires of the constituents they serve. Public land management is essentially a customer-oriented business, yet researchers are still striving to understand how best to measure the satisfaction levels of their customers and to develop a more customer-oriented focus for outdoor recreation providers and natural resource managers. Customer satisfaction research can help an agency meet its customers’ most important needs, and influence customer expectations by aligning promises with ability to perform.Natural resource managers at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida implemented a five-year ecosystem management plan in 1993, which included a public information and monitoring program. This involved assessing public and recreation user satisfaction levels with natural resource management at the base. A mail survey incorporating a six-item satisfaction scale was completed by a random sample of 907 recreation permit-holders and residents neighboring the base. Neighbors held significantly more neutral views than recreation users toward practices and impacts of ecosystem management.Survey results were compared to 58 recreation surveys reported in the literature using a conversion protocol to enable cross-study comparisons. Eighty percent of Eglin recreation users reported feeling satisfied or neutral, similar to literature averages of 78%. Average satisfaction levels varied among recreation groups: 86% for non-consumptive recreationists, 76% for hunters and 71% for anglers. Lack of standardization among resource management surveys made it unfeasible to establish satisfaction benchmarks for quality control at Eglin. This review suggested a number of techniques to improve public involvement and satisfaction with land management practices and policies. These included strategies using education and outreach activities and partnership and advisory board programs. Development of a customer focus throughout an organization should increase customer satisfaction with ecosystem management.
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