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Monitoring visitor injury in protected areas - analysis of incident reporting in two Western Australian parks

Gstaettner, A.M., Kobryn, H.T.ORCID: 0000-0003-1004-7593, Rodger, K., Phillips, M. and Lee, D. (2018) Monitoring visitor injury in protected areas - analysis of incident reporting in two Western Australian parks. Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, 25 . pp. 143-157.

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A large number of visitor injuries and fatalities are recorded in protected areas around the world each year. With the goal of reducing future accidents, it is critical for managing agencies to learn from past events by identifying why and under which circumstances visitor incidents occurred. This paper presents a retrospective analysis of visitor incident data recorded in Western Australian lands and waters managed by public agencies between July 2011 and June 2017. The aim of the study was to explore trends and patterns of incident occurrence, and by so doing, to examine whether current incident reporting practices in Western Australia are adequate to comprehensively understand incident occurrence in different park contexts. Using Karijini National Park and Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area as case examples, different ways are presented how incident data collected can be utilised in relation to different park contexts. However, our study shows that incident monitoring in Western Australia is characterised by fragmentary recording of information, leading to difficulties in clearly understanding why and under which circumstances incidents occur. For example, whilst visitor risk levels across various times during the year were quantified in Karijini, illustrating that certain months are related to a greater risk of injury per park visit, insufficient data provision on weather conditions and visitor behaviour meant that no clear conclusions could be drawn on the causes of this trend. Similarly, whilst the data pointed towards a specific visitor group at high risk of harm in Ningaloo (i.e. unguided international visitors), a comparison to overall visitor data was not possible, which prevents making inferences about the extent of the potential issue identified.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
Copyright: © 2018 Published by Elsevier Ltd
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