The regulation of the use of the protected area by visitors is one of the main instruments of the on-site application of visitor management. This consists of the set of rules that need to be respected either by visitors or by tour operators who organize activities for visitors.

There are three main variants for regulating visitor activities: direct regulation, guiding measures and indirect measures. Direct regulations on visitor behavior are based on law enforcement. For this, it is necessary to have the legal power to implement regulations and to apply the appropriate fines. If law enforcement is poor or non-existent, area management will not have the necessary credibility and will be perceived as a powerless administration. The visitor vetting and management visitor badging is recommended.

There should be several less restrictive but applicable regulations, rather than very restrictive but not applied. Direct regulations must be adopted as a separate document (rules for visiting the protected area) but must also be clearly presented in the protected area management plan if the visiting rules do not are part of the management plan. Look at this.

Guiding measures

Guiding measures are less based on the application of legal measures and more on guiding visitors and tour operators in the desired directions. Route network represents often a guiding measure if it is well managed and communicated to users: schemes of different graphs indicating different degrees of difficulty, indicators that can guide them on visitors to the desired objectives, bypassing more sensitive conservation areas.

Another example of Guidance Measures consists of a set of voluntary measures developed / agreed with the tour operators for the purpose of using a particular area or whole protected area in a responsible manner. By applying these voluntary measures operators can get a certificate (a green label) that will assure their customers that operators respect and contribute to the policy of conservation of the nature in the protected area.

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Indirect measures include all visitor awareness techniques that leave behind their latitude on how they will act. Techniques used as indirect measures is based on information, interpretation, and the success of the learning experiences which will determine the desired behavior of the visitors. Indirect measures depend on tour operators, the general education level and other features of visitors as well as selecting the appropriate communication channels for certain messages.

According to recreation zoning, a combination of regulations must be adopted for each area direct measures, guiding measures and indirect measures. For field use, regulations and measures are transposed into a set of visiting rules (a code of conduct) that can be:

  1. Applied by law (direct regulation);
  2. voluntarily adopted through a certification scheme (Guidance Measure);
  3. communicated through an interpretation program (indirect measure).

The trail networks

It happens quite often as the system of trails and paths existing before the area becomes an area to be protected by the administration of the protected area and thus not creates a new concept for the network of routes in the newly established protected area. That is why evaluating the existing routes and the planning of new ones must take into account the entire network of trails in the area. Find out more by clicking here.

At the evaluation, each route must be analyzed according to the following:

  • frequency, number and type of users;
  • the aesthetic value (variety) of the landscape;
  • The importance of the route for access to a certain place (e.g. a cabin, a route of climbing, a village, etc.);
  • actual route status (surface, width, vegetation corridor, erosion);
  • the design and content of information and interpretation;
  • negative impact on natural habitat and conservation objectives;
  • local acceptance;
  • assessment of the legal framework (land ownership, regional and local regulations).

After the evaluation of each route, the report on the route network, which identifies one route, a series of actions can be prepared to be taken to manage the routes, such as: maintenance, updating information and interpretation system on or in connection with routes, opening new routes, or even temporary or permanent closure of access to some routes which cross sensitive areas.

For the planning of the whole network of trails it is recommended to use some habitats of appealing species that are easily accessible can serve as observation patterns so that other habitats can be left untouched.