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Environmental Behaviour, Place Attachment and Park Visitation: A case study of visitors to Point Pelee National Park

by Halpenny, Elizabeth A.

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis explores the relationship between place attachment and pro-environmental behaviour expressed by visitors to Point Pelee National Park. Place attachment, the functional, cognitive and emotional bond with a place, may play a role in promoting environmentally responsible behaviours. This may be especially true of place-specific pro-environmental behaviours; however place attachment may also have a "carry-over" effect in that its impact on individuals' self identity may also foster pro-environmental behaviour in individuals' every day lives.

An exploration of these relationships was achieved, first by measuring the intensity of place attachment and pro-environment behavioural intentions expressed by visitors to Point Pelee National Park. This was followed by an examination of the relationship between these two constructs using correlation analysis and structural equation modeling. Data was collected with a mail-based self-completed questionnaire. A quota sample of visitors to Point Pelee National Park was utilized. A response rate of 32% (n = 355) was achieved.

The relationship between place attachment and pro-environmental intentions was explored further through the measurement of several related variables. These factors include place satisfaction (based on an appraisal of nature, social and activity-based environments), motivation for visiting the park (related to social interaction and nature observation, as well as activity-based and learning opportunities), distance between the park and visitors' residences, membership in environmental organizations, and visitation patterns including visitation to the park during childhood, length of affiliation with the park, length of visit to the park, and frequency of visitation to the park. Theoretical and empirical research suggests that these factors may affect place attachment, pro-environment behavioural intentions, and/or the relationship between these two constructs.

Study results found positive associations between place attachment and all of these variables with the exception of visitation motives associated with learning and engaging in a favourite activity. The strongest predictive relationships were observed with anti-substitution (the inability of an individual to substitute the park for another destination because of a lack of resources such as time or money or a lack of awareness of comparable sites) followed by frequency of visits to the park; park commitment (based on Friends group membership and donations of time and money to the Friends group); Friends of Point Pelee (FoPP) membership; and park relationship (which was based on visitation to the park as a child and length of affiliation); and, satisfaction with the park.

Results support the proposition that place attachment has a strong positive association with both park-specific pro-environment behavioural intentions (e. g. , Write letters in support of Point Pelee N. P. and similar protected areas) as well as general pro-environment behavioural intentions (e. g. , Pay extra for transportation if it is environmentally-friendly). Place attachment strongly predicted park-specific, and moderately predicted general pro-environmental intentions. A number of other variables had an indirect effect on park-specific intentions; notable effects were demonstrated by frequency of visits; park relationship; visitation to the park as a child; place satisfaction; social satisfaction; FoPP membership; and, park commitment; anti-substitution. These affects were mediated by place attachment. After place attachment the strongest predictors of park-specific intentions were anti-substitution; frequency of visits; park commitment; and, general environmental commitment (which was based on membership in an environmental organization and donations of time and money to that organization).

Place attachment was not the only direct predicator of general pro-environmental intentions; general environmental commitment and membership in an environmental organization also directly predicted general pro-environmental intentions. Notable indirect effects, mediated by place attachment were produced by frequency of visits; park relationship; FoPP membership; park commitment; and anti-substitution. The strongest predictors of general pro-environmental intentions were general environmental commitment, followed by place attachment, membership in an environmental organization, and frequency of park visitation.

These findings correspond with much of the literature published on place attachment formation and the development of pro-environmental behaviours. The most notable contribution of this study is its comparison of place attachment's impact on general versus place-specific behaviours, and the role that several related variables play in this relationship.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:University of Waterloo

School Location:Canada - Ontario

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:leisure recreation tourism place attachment environmental behaviour protected areas attitudes park visitors

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2006

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