Residents’ Attitudes Towards a National Park Under Conditions of Suburbanisation and Tourism Pressure: A Case Study of Ojców National Park (Poland)

  • 1 Department of Social and Economic Geography, Poland

Abstract

The article attempts to contribute to the global discussion on the social aspects of the functioning of protected areas. It explores the attitudes of local communities towards national parks and the determinants of those attitudes. The problem is presented using the example of Ojców National Park (Pol. OPN), a small-area national park located in the suburban zone of Kraków (Poland) and subject to strong pressure of tourism and suburbanisation. The analysis is based on interviews with people residing within the boundaries or buffer zone of the OPN. The residents are proud to live in a scenic location; they tend to perceive the national park in the context of its significant natural value rather than its administration and the related restrictions, and mostly approve of its existence. There is a high support for implementing the participative model of local area management. At the same time, however, the residents’ preferred methods of area management are in conflict with the need to protect the Park’s natural and landscape values. The residents favour commercial tourism infrastructure within the protected area and residential housing development in its close vicinity. The residents’ attitudes towards the Park are also shaped to a large extent by complex factors relating to the area’s history and its location within the suburban zone of a major city.

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