Recreation Management in Parks and Protected Areas: A Comparative Study of Resource Managers’ Perceptions in Austria, Germany, and the United States


  • Eick von Ruschkowski
  • Robert C. Burns
  • Arne Arnberger
  • David Smaldone
  • Jessica Meybin


International, Outdoor Recreation, Benchmarking, Management Perceptions, Delphi


Nature-based recreational activities continue to be a management challenge in many parks and protected areas worldwide. Although this challenge is widely recognized within the academic community, the transfer of research into daily management practice is at different levels among countries. This research was designed to focus on the values of park managers that influence the prioritization of management strategies and actions in a crosscultural context. This study surveyed 28 park and protected area managers responsible for recreation planning and management in Austria, Germany and the United States using a Delphi study. The objective was to identify differences and similarities in their values and daily management practices and priorities. Differences in the value systems were identified. The planning approaches in the three countries varied largely, with the European countries putting an emphasis on mitigating the human impacts on natural resources caused by recreational activities; whereas in the United States, social issues such as carrying capacity, visitor satisfaction and crowding seem to be dominant in the field of recreation management. The differences identified can help planners and managers in the three countries to improve their management tools and techniques in order to address the complex challenge of recreation management, as well as for a better integration of ecological and social issues.