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About the Project

A 2018 CPCIL Parks Leadership Capstone Team project explored visitor use management at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park in British Columbia, noted for dramatic increases in visitation that are characterized by the “selfie-log” where people line up to take their picture for social media.

This project raised questions of the impact of selfie culture on park visitation and if there are common approaches that have more or less impact on reducing or managing over-use. This research idea is to evaluate the social media around specific “hot spots” as well as the park agency perceptions, statistics, and response to these hot spots. Responses of interest include implementing registration systems, using social media to educate or redirect visitors, or site closures.

We feel the impact to practice would be two-fold. First, parks could share ideas to find common approaches to messaging and behaviour change. Second, research could identify ways to use social media  to assess emerging visitation patterns.

CPCIL is looking for research partners to lead this study from funding application to completion, and we have identified several Park Leaders who may be interested in being case sites (but are not confirmed or endorsing this study), such as:

  • BC Parks/Joffre Lakes Provincial Park
  • New Brunswick Parks/Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park
  • Parks Canada/Point Pelee National park

A sub-study might be to focus in on hot-spots for visitation during COVID-19.

Initial References:

Ghermandi, A., Sinclair M., Fichtman, E., and Gish, M. (2020), Novel insights on intensity and typology of direct human-nature interactions in protected areas through passive crowdsourcing, Global Environmental Change, Volume 65,

Hausmann, A., Toivonen, T., Slotow, R., Tenkanen, H., Moilanen, A., Heikinheimo, V. and Di Minin, E. (2018), Social Media Data Can Be Used to Understand Tourists’ Preferences for Nature‐Based Experiences in Protected Areas. CONSERVATION LETTERS, 11: e12343. doi:10.1111/conl.12343

Yun Liang, Andrei P. Kirilenko, Svetlana O. Stepchenkova & Shihan (David) Ma (2020) Using social media to discover unwanted behaviours displayed by visitors to nature parks: comparisons of nationally and privately owned parks in the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa, Tourism Recreation Research, 45:2, 271-276, DOI: 10.1080/02508281.2019.1681720


We were informed of this related podcast by Claire Brassard of the Big Story Podcast and have added it to this research idea:

If you or your organization are interested in collaborating on this project please complete the following form. Please note that submitting this form is not a commitment, it is an expression of interest. After sending, you will be contacted by the project lead to get more details about your possible commitment, and to answer your questions .

1 Comment

  1. Great up-and-coming and relevant research idea! Social media has completely changed the conservation and protected areas realm, especially in this year’s COVID-19 environment, with many agencies seeing a larger influx of visitors than anticipated, a lot of them after that highly sought after selfie. This research can also have ecological implications, in terms of assessing visitation patterns and determining the appropriate carrying capacity of a park.

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Lead Organization

Canadian Parks Collective for Innovation and Leadership

Estimated Timeline

Two years

Estimated Budget


Remaining Amount