ORTM Research

ORTM Research Reports and Publication Series:

A Selection of Past Research Projects:

Participant Evaluation of Wild at Heart Knowledge Network Series
Contact: Pam Wright
About the research:  
The Knowledge Network’s Wild at Heart 13 episode television series Wild at Heart was produced and aired in 2007 and encourages BC residents to get outside and explore BC Parks. This tool offers one potential innovative mechanism to encourage viewers to experience wilderness adventure – firstly through viewing the series and secondly, by inspiring viewers to get outside. Indeed the production of the television series itself was designed to encourage participants to forge a link with nature. Approximately 50 participants were involved in the filming of the episodes with the hope of using their stories about experiencing nature to inspire others. Examining the effect of these introductory experiences to encourage life-changes in production participants presents a unique opportunity.  The research project consists of in-depth interviews with participants and was completed in spring of 2008.

An examination of the cruise tourist: Management implications for Nunavut's three cruise accessed National Parks (Auyuittuq, Sirmilik, and Quttinirpaaq)
Contact: Pat Maher
About the research:
This project was initiated following discussions between Pat Maher and Parks Canada staff from the Nunavut Field Unit.  As a result, this project seeks to collect a variety of data from the cruise tourist themselves while they visit Auyuittuq, Sirmilik, and/or Quttinirpaaq National Parks.

This data was collected over the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Contact Pat for details.

Evaluating the Visitor Orientation Program at
Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site

Contact: Pat Maher

This project was initiated following a meeting between Pat Maher and Parks Canada staff from Gwaii Haanas, during the Parks Canada National Visitor Experience workshop.  As a result of that meeting, this project sought to evaluate whether the message Parks Canada wanted to address with their orientation program were actually being received by their visitors.  As a truly win-win-win situation, this project allowed Parks Canada to better understand, and thus manage their visitors, with the new data in hand; allowed Pat to gain some quality publishable data for his research program;, and then also gave students in Pat’s RRT 410/610 research methods class the experience of working with and analyzing data from a “real life” project”, where their input was valued by an external agency, and in the end they produced a published technical report. A final copy of the report is available in the ORTM publication series.

Community Perceptions and Understanding of the Mountain Pine Beetle Epidemic and Management Practices in the Robson Valley
Graduate Supervisor: Pamela Wright, Ph.D. 
About the research:
British Columbia has a history of infestation by mountain pine beetle. However, current levels of mountain pine beetles (MPB) have reached epidemic proportions making the forests more susceptible to fire while threatening the long term sustainability of over thirty communities. 
Communities find themselves immersed in issues regarding MPB management and the corresponding effects on amenity, property, and ecological values. Successful engagement of communities in response to the MPB epidemic requires full community understanding and positive perceptions towards MPB management practices. However, as with most natural resource issues perceptions and understanding of the pine beetle epidemic and management practices vary. Attempts at communicating natural issues to the public effectively have variable results. Kate has been examining community understanding and perceptions in the Robson Valley in Northern BC for her research project. Kate's thesis was defended (available from UNBC library) in 2007.

Community-University Research Alliance: Tl'azt'en Ecotourism
Products and Activities:     CURA products and activities
About the research:
Here, in Northern BC, we are rich in culturally-based ecotourism experiences that showcase local First Nation’s tradition and culture through celebrations, festivals, art, and every day life. A wide range of culturally-based ecotourism opportunities provide visitors with a glimpse of this through activities such as feasts, dances, artwork and interpretive tours. The Tl’azt’en Nation has a rich tradition of sharing its culture and its resource with others. For the contemporary tourist – there is plenty to offer – the challenge is getting them to slow down, spend some time and look closely at the subtle beauty of the boreal north.
As part of the broader CURA project, the Ecotourism Stream is designed to explore potential tourism and recreation opportunities with the Tl’azt’en Nation. Two UNBC graduate students  worked with Tl’azt’enne to address community-based research needs including: 
  • What benefits do Tl’azt’enne want to maximize and what impacts are of concern?
  • What are potential tourism opportunities that Tl’azt’en an consider?
  • What stories, messages, themes, and places does Tl’azt’en Nation want to share with visitors?
  • What is the market for culturally-based ecotourism opportunities in the north?
  • What attributes of tourism products are potential customers interested in?
The UNBC Ecotourism Stream Leader was Dr. Pam Wright, Associate Professor in the UNBC Outdoor  Recreation and Tourism Management program. The Tl'azt'en Stream Leader was Amanda Stark.   NRES graduate students Diana Kutzner and Shane Hartman worked on the project.
 Results of the project can be found on the CURA website.

 Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Project

Contact: Sarah Elmeligi, MNRES Graduate Student 
Graduate Supervisors: John Shultis, Ph.D. and Pamela Wright, Ph.D.
About the research:
Various forms of tourism, including so-called wildlife tourism, have the potential to significantly impact communities and the environment in both positive and negative ways. Wildlife viewing has become an increasingly important component of the tourism market.
This research project is designed to assess the potential impacts of boat-based wildlife viewing on grizzly bear behaviour in the Khutzeymateen Inlet, British Columbia. Sarah Elmeligi, a graduate student in RRT, completed her field data collection in the summer of 2005 as part of her thesis work at UNBC for a Masters of Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (MNRES) degree.
The purpose of the project is to investigate potential impacts of boat-based viewing tourism on the grizzly bears of the Khutzeymateen Valley.
The inlet is situated adjacent to the Khutzeymateen/K’tzim-a-Deen Grizzly Sanctuary, the first protected area in Canada to be created specifically for the protection of grizzly bears and their habitat. It also represents the first undisturbed estuary of its size to be protected along the north coast of BC. The topography of this land and marine sanctuary is diverse, with rugged peaks towering to 2100 metres above a valley of wetlands, old growth temperate rainforests and a large estuary. While the sanctuary limits human activity, including wildlife tourism, within the protected area boundaries, the inlet is unregulated in terms of wildlife tourism; studying the potential impacts of tourism activity in this area can be used to create future regulations to enable land managers to protect the grizzly bears from any harmful effects of tourism.
Specific objectives of the research project include an assessment of the number and characteristics of wildlife viewing and other boats in the inlet, an assessment of grizzly bear’s behavioural responses to tour boats, and empowerment of the local community to carry on research and monitor impacts over the long term.
Sarah's thesis is available in the UNBC library. 

Paddling the Big Sky Expedition  
About the research:
Paddling the Big Sky was an expedition that included university level teaching through the University of Alberta for one month, examining students’ relationships to their landscape. The expedition continued as a three month voyage where research initiated by Phil Mullins sought to critique outdoor and environmental education through the lived-expedition, as well as the stories and pasts of the 6 outdoor educators involved.

 Self Drive
Visitors’ Perceptions of Wilderness

About the research:
The drive tourism industry and particularly the use of recreational vehicles (RV’s) is increasing rapidly in Canada. Per capita, Canada has a higher level of RV ownership than the USA, with 13% of the population owning an RV, compared to 10% in the USA (Go RVing, 2004).  Moreover, in British Columbia (BC) alone, more than one million non residents took a holiday in their car or a rented car (Statistics Canada, 2001). This figure, which has most likely increased and does not include residents, suggests that a summer influx of RV and car travelers in regional and remote areas can have dramatic social and environmental impacts on wild land areas. Given that the goal of sustainable development is now a cornerstone of many tourism development and protected area agencies, an understanding of the nature of this market is imperative in order to plan and create policy for prevention of negative environmental, socio-cultural and economic impacts.
To date, little research has been conducted on the drive tourism market and it is often refereed to as a homogeneous market sector. We are interested in exploring whether self drive travelers (using cars and RVs) may be segmented into groups according to their motivation for travel, behaviour whilst planning their trip and traveling, types of vehicle and attitudes towards wilderness. In particular, we are interested in examining self drive travelers’ perceptions of and attitudes towards wilderness, interactions with wildlands, and the role that the idea of wilderness plays in planning their holiday destinations.

Angler Preferences in the Omineca Region

Contact: Pat Maher 
About the research:

In cooperation with the Omineca Regional Office of the BC Ministry of Environment – Environmental Stewardship Division this research sought to better understand distribution, behaviour, attitudes, and preferences of anglers fishing in the Omineca region. The research was completed by ORTM faculty member Pat Maher and research assistant Steve Stüssi, a Fish and Wildlife student who undertook the project as an ORTM 499 Independent Study.

With the results, it is hoped that the Ministry of Environment can make informed management decisions that better meet the demands of the users; taking into account the human dimension whilst still accounting for the conservation requirements of the land. You can download a copy of the final report by following this link (Angler Final Report).