Tourism is of growing economical importance to many nations, in particular for developing countries. Although tourism is an important economic vehicle for the host country, its continued growth has led to on-going concerns about its environmental sustainability. Coastal and marine tourism can directly affect the environment through direct and indirect tourist activities. For these reasons tourism sector needs practical actions of sustainability. Several studies have shown how education minimizes the impact on and is proactive for, preserving the natural resources. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of a citizen science program to improve the environmental education of the volunteers, by means of questionnaires provided to participants to a volunteer-based Red Sea coral reef monitoring program (STEproject). Fifteen multiple-choice questions evaluated the level of knowledge on the basic coral reef biology and ecology and the awareness on the impact of human behaviour on the environment. Volunteers filled in questionnaires twice, once at the beginning, before being involved in the project and again at the end of their stay, after several days participation in the program. We found that the participation in STEproject significantly increased both the knowledge of coral reef biology and ecology and the awareness of human behavioural impacts on the environment, but was more effective on the former. We also detected that tourists with a higher education level have a higher initial level of environmental education than less educated people and that the project was more effective on divers than snorkelers. This study has emphasized that citizen science projects have an important and effective educational value and has suggested that tourism and diving stakeholders should increase their commitment and efforts to these programs.
Communication and Education
Improving public awareness about the ocean can benefit the environment, economy, and society. However, low levels of ‘ocean literacy’ have been identified in many countries and can be a barrier for citizens to engage in environmentally responsible behavior or consider ocean-related careers. This study assessed the level of ocean valuation, knowledge, interaction and interest of public school students grade 7–12 (ages 12–18) in Nova Scotia, Canada, a region with strong connections with the sea. A survey was used in 11 public schools, with a total of 723 students participating in a quiz and survey. Many quiz questions were aligned with the ‘Ocean Literacy Principles’ established by the Ocean Literacy Campaign in the United States. Although the average quiz score was below 50%, students reported a high valuation of the marine environment and diverse interest in the oceans, including jobs and careers. There was a distinct difference in knowledge of biology-related questions and abiotic-related questions, with students having more knowledge of and interest in topics concerning ocean life. A significant positive correlation between knowledge and value indicated that ocean-literate students might value the marine environment more strongly. Students reporting greater interaction with the ocean also demonstrated higher knowledge levels, and students with higher knowledge levels were more likely to be interested in ocean-related jobs and careers. Participants׳ high valuation of the marine environment and interest in ocean jobs and careers suggests important links between ocean literacy and environmental and economic benefit, respectively. Enhancing interactions with the ocean through experiential learning could be the most effective way of improving ocean literacy as well as marine citizen- and stewardship.
Climate change is a significant global risk that is predicted to be particularly devastating to coastal communities. Climate change adaptation and mitigation have been hindered by many factors, including psychological barriers, ineffective outreach and communication, and knowledge gaps. This qualitative study compares an expert model of climate change risks to county administrators' “mental” models of climate change and related coastal environmental hazards in Crystal River, Florida, USA. There were 24 common nodes in the expert and the combined non-expert models, mainly related to hurricanes, property damage, and economic concerns. Seven nodes mentioned by non-experts fit within, but were not a part of, the expert model, primarily related to ecological concerns about water quality. The findings suggest that effective climate outreach and communication could focus on compatible parts of the models and incorporate local concerns to find less controversial ways to discuss climate-related hazards.
The design of interactive applications for online communication is an ongoing area of research within technical communication. This study reports on the development of an interactive sea-level rise (SLR) viewer, a data visualization tool that communicates about the potential effects of SLR along coastlines. It describes the formative evaluation of a location-specific SLR viewer created via integral stakeholder engagement. Participants performed a series of tasks, answered questions about the tool's usability and communicative effectiveness, and made suggestions for ways to improve its application to desired tasks. The authors discuss the implications of this study for visual risk communication and make recommendations for others developing similar interactive data visualization tools with audience input.
This research was conducted in the southeastern United States, one of the most rapidly developing regions in the country. The study included two sets of predictor variables: environmental experiences and perceptions (i.e., observation of pollution and assessment of pollution’s impact) and residential factors (i.e., rural vs. urban residence and upstream vs. downstream watershed location); sociodemographic characteristics served as control variables. Sequential regression was performed on survey data of watershed residents to isolate the predictors of environmentalism. Observation of pollution and assessment of pollution’s impact on water quality were most important for explaining environmental concern, self-reported household-based behaviors, and self-reported likelihood of engaging in water quality improvement efforts. The sociodemographic variables were also significant predictors; the residential variables had limited influence on the dependent variables. These results indicate that stormwater educators should account for experiential factors and perceptions of pollution when designing strategies for encouraging environmentalism.
South American coastal habitats include a wide range of benthic ecosystems, many of which are unique and constitute hotspots of biodiversity. Marine protected areas (MPAs), instituted mostly during the second half of the twentieth Century, are considered a key management tool to conserve regional biodiversity, prevent overexploitation, and generate economic benefits. Educational actions to promote changes in basic values, principles, and attitudes – although considered also as a main objective – frequently have a poor conceptual basis. In conjunction with the evaluation of their effectiveness by long-term, site-based ecological and socio-economic research, in Brazil MPAs are aiming to implement a holistic approach. This will allow the development and testing of environmental practices that integrate ecology, economy, ethics, and conflict resolution in the different uses of marine space. However, ecological long-term studies, socio-economic long-term evaluation, and the integration of education and ethics are still incipient. With the recent creation of some independent networks in different South American countries related to the assessment of biological communities, marine biologists of this continent are now focusing more on: (1) sharing methodologies and data to allow comparative and integrated continental analyses, and (2) integrating social components, including not only economic but also ethical values and participatory approaches. Toward this aim, the Chilean Long Term Socio- Ecological Research network (LTSER-Chile) has developed a Field Environmental Philosophy program that could be adapted to MPAs educational programs, and also contribute to the integration of ecology and ethics in theory and praxis for an Earth Stewardship initiative.
Environmental Education for Sustainable Societies and Global Responsibility (EESS) is aimed at transforming society and its negative impacts on the environment by way of financial and political emancipation, whence ecotourism becomes one of the best options towards environmental sustainability. This study aimed at evaluating social actors' conceptions on Environmental Education and ecotourism, in order to base the development of future marine-ecotourism activities in the Marine Environmental Protection Area of Armação de Búzios (MEPAAB). Sampling involved 73 respondents interested in the implementation of marine ecotourism in the area. Their concepts, as regards ecotourism and EESS, were analyzed according to individual profiles. The sample was mainly composed of Argentine and Brazilian tourists from the cities of Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, when visiting MEPAAB. Since most of the concepts were limited to environmental conservation and public awareness, these were considered entirely or not entirely adequate. The results could not be significantly associated with the age of respondents or any other factor (Kruskal-Wallis, p>0.05). The concept of ecotourism was the better known. Even so, significant differences were observed only among the different classes by income. There were clear indications of the urgent application of EESS in the coastal environment, as a plausible management tool for the littoral municipalities of Rio de Janeiro State.
There is an open question among conservation practitioners regarding whether using flagship specifies to market marine conservation is less effective than using terrestrial species in the terrestrial context. A flagship species is a species selected to act as an ambassador, icon, or symbol for a defined habitat, issue, campaign, or environmental cause. A mascot species has many of the same attributes as a flagship species, but is selected for its communications value instead of its ecological value. Our research indicates that mascot species can be as effective a marketing tool for marine conservation as they have been for terrestrial conservation. Based on our study, there is no evidence that the use of marine mascot species or that confront threats based on fishing and harvesting of aquatic resources perform any differently from other social marketing campaigns that address terrestrial issues.
MPAs and stakeholder education are marine conservation cornerstones, but data to assess adherence to regulations and the success of educational methods are missing. Local MPAs have been established to protect inter-tidal mudflats and shore users from bait collection which is a contentious worldwide issue. Video cameras monitored activity and confirmed if collectors adhered to the rules at three UK sites with different MPA systems. An educational approach (a voluntary code leaflet) was also assessed through stakeholder discussion and observation. Fareham Creek and Dell Quay supported a considerable number of collectors with none observed at Pagham Harbour. At Fareham Creek bait dug areas were evident in discrete patches in unprotected and protected areas, but observed collectors mainly used the latter. The failure to exclude collectors is due to the lack of enforcement. At Dell Quay virtually all dug areas were outside protected areas and was confirmed by the camera footage. Success is attributed to regular on-the-ground ‘unofficial’ enforcement by the managing NGO. Of the retailers, 75% had heard of the code and the majority stated they followed it. However, none of the 26 collectors observed followed a key rule (e.g. backfilling holes). Local marine conservation is relatively cheap and can be effective, but only if: management matches the actual pressure; scientific evaluation for all components (including education) is integrated from the beginning; adequate site enforcement is included; education methods are active, two-way and sustained.
The Internet provides a unique opportunity for scientists to be in direct contact with the public in order to promote citizens’ scientific literacy. Recently, Internet users have started to spend most of their online time on social networking sites (SNS). Knowledge of how these SNSs work as an arena for interaction, as well as for the development of scientific literacy, is important to guide scientists’ activities online, and to be able to understand how people develop knowledge of science. This was evaluated by scrutinizing the Facebook page of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and the consequences for users’ ocean literacy. We investigated which practices could increase the number of users reached by a Facebook story. We also found that Facebook pages do not offer the appropriate social context to foster participation since it has only a few of the features of an arena where such practices could develop.