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Yu-Fai Leung

Professor & Grad Prog Director-PRTM; Faculty Fellow-CGA; Assoc Faculty-FER

Jordan Hall 5107

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Area(s) of Expertise

Sustainable visitor use in parks and protected areas


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Date: 04/01/20 - 9/30/22
Amount: $9,824.00
Funding Agencies: Academic Consortium 21

A workshop will be convened to establish a collaborative research network led by three AC21 member institutions, and to develop a research agenda that will engage other researchers, forming a research community for addressing high-priority knowledge gaps in the sustainable management of Antarctic tourism.

Date: 01/01/17 - 6/01/22
Amount: $371,697.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Interior (DOI)

We will: 1. Assess Game Land use in NC by estimating user days for key groups including: a. White-tailed deer hunters b. Black bear hunters c. Turkey hunters d. Small game hunters e. Hikers/walkers f. Birders g. Other recreationists (e.g., boaters, bicyclists) 2. Determine the economic contribution of Game Lands to the counties where they are located and to North Carolina, by: a. Assessing the economic impact of recreational activity that can be attributed to Game Lands b. Assessing the economic impact of recreational activity attributed to specific amenities on Game Lands including shooting ranges and field trials areas 3. Determine the non-market value of Game Lands in NC for beneficiaries in the counties where they are located by estimating: a. Willingness to pay by users and by local residents (as reflected in property values) b. The fiscal impact of Game Lands on local governments, by examining trade-offs between the amount and value of taxable land

Date: 07/01/12 - 8/31/19
Amount: $79,939.00
Funding Agencies: International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

The goal of this project is to revise the 2002 Sustainable Tourism Best Practice Guidelines (ST-BPG) document so that it is more relevant to protected area stakeholders globally in the 2010s and beyond. The Third Edition (ST-BPG3) incorporates new research, update the theoretical frameworks presented, use current case studies, and develop guidelines and recommendations relevant to the next 10-15 years. This project engages members of Tourism Specialist Group of the IUCN World Commission of Protected Areas, as well as managers, academics and other stakeholders of protected area tourism in enhancing the contents and utility of the document. The primary output of this project is the ST-BPG3 book (in English, French, German and Spanish) which contains 11 chapters, covering all essential topics of tourism and visitor management and protected areas. The project also produces an accompanying online resource directory that facilitates global sharing of relevant references and new best practices.

Date: 08/15/15 - 6/30/18
Amount: $185,689.00
Funding Agencies: Conservation Legacy

Multiple studies exist on the impact of environmental corps programs on participants (e.g., Duerden, et al., 2013; Education Northwest, 2013). Each evaluation provided strong evidence for the impact of the corps experience on participants’ community engagement, environmental engagement, teamwork, leadership, communication skills and grit. Emerging research demonstrates the efficacy of conservation work to provide broader social, health, and economic benefits. The primary relevant conservation activities conducted by corps are improvements to public lands and trail stewardship. Research suggests links between land improvement activities like those conducted by corps and many long-term community and ecosystem impacts. Improving public parks and habitats is associated with increased ecosystem services, improved biodiversity, and environmental health (Benayas et al., 2009; Suding, 2011). Controlling invasive species has major financial implications for many economic sectors (Pimentel, et al., 2005) and can also positively impact outdoor recreational activities (Eiswerth, et al., 2005; Julia, et al., 2007). Conservation activities can ensure that publicly accessible ecosystems remain healthy in light of high human contact (Alessa et al., 2003). Numerous studies have also indicated how poorly constructed trails negatively influence the quality of recreation experiences and decrease visitation (Roggenbuck, et al., 1993; Vaske, et al., 1993). When trails are built and maintained properly, they have the potential to produce direct economic benefits through visitor expenditures on equipment, food, transportation, and lodging (Moore, et al., 1994). Relevant to the evaluation, there are two primary long-term impacts associated with corps activities. First, improving public parks and habitats promotes ecosystem health. Second, improving trail conditions increases the quality of trails, leading to higher accessibility and usage, enhanced visitor experiences, and increased health outcomes. While measuring the long-term impact of these activities lie outside the scope of a program evaluation, key antecedent mechanisms will be evaluated as program outputs and outcomes. Based on preliminary work with NC State University, conservation corps, the Corps Network, and land management partners; Two research questions were developed to guide the outcome evaluations: 1. Do projects focused on improving or constructing trails improve the visually assessed quality of trails? 2. Do projects focused on improving, protecting, and restoring public parks and habitats improve visually assessed ecosystem health?

Date: 06/15/17 - 3/30/18
Amount: $45,235.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Interior (DOI)

Shackleford Banks is the southernmost island in Cape Lookout National Seashore and home to a herd of feral horses. The horses, along with the lighthouse and beaches, are the main visitor draws to the park. While technically a non-native species, the park has actively maintained the horses since 1996. The park’s enabling legislation was amended in August 1998 and December 2005 to set specific population and management guidelines for the horses. The horses live, behave and are managed like wildlife within their ecosystem. Increasing visitation and lack of understanding by visitors of how to keep wildlife wild is threatening the herd. Visitors routinely get too close to the horses, trying to take photos, touch or even feed the horses. Horses become habituated to people close by them, losing their healthy fear of humans which increases the chances that people will be hurt when horses act instinctively. Waves of visitors disembark from passenger ferries and pass by the same groups of horses each day, multiplying the disturbance effect. This two-year program has two components. Part A: Visitor-horse interactions will be studied to create written guidelines for the park’s ongoing Wild Horse Public Educational Campaign. The Campaign takes the educational message to the public in ongoing fashion by varied means. Part B: Wild horse oriented educational curricula will be created for 4-7th grades. Local teachers will be asked to advise, Common Core Standards will be followed, and the information will be made easy for teachers to use in order to increase its attractiveness. The use of wild horses as examples in the curriculum will bring the educational messages to young people, fostering attitudes of conservation and stewardship. The examples, worksheets and activities will be entered in the NPS Education Portal for maximum access.

Date: 05/01/15 - 12/31/17
Amount: $19,000.00
Funding Agencies: Appalachian Trail Conservancy

This subcontract contributes to the larger Virginia Tech-led study, which is designed to assess visitation-related impacts to a representative sample of trail segments along the 2,175-mile Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.). Assessment protocols will be developed and applied to assess resource conditions of the A.T. tread and associated informal trails, overnight shelters and campsites, and related recreation sites. A variety of inventory and impact indicators will be quantitatively assessed to assemble spatially-referenced baseline data, conduct relational analyses to model and document the contribution of influential factors, evaluate trail and site sustainability, and develop management recommendations for avoiding or minimizing use-related resource impacts. The subcontract enables technical assistance in assessment protocol development, field data collection and analysis, and results dissemination of the project.

Date: 06/01/14 - 6/30/15
Amount: $16,330.00
Funding Agencies: US National Park Service

The cooperator will provide a detailed analysis of geospatial data gathered as part of pack stock monitoring to explore the use, grazing patterns and temporal variations, as well as relationships between natural and disturbance features in subalpine meadows of Yosemite National Park.

Date: 11/01/09 - 1/30/14
Amount: $134,747.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service

The National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council identified public health impacts of urban forests as a research priority. Two of the ten leading public health challenges in the U.S. are physical inactivity and obesity. Studies of the built environment show that community design and urban form shape opportunities for physical activity. Few studies have examined the specific contributions that urban and community forests make to public health through physical activity. This study proposes to examine the potential for urban forests to promote physical activity and health. A multidisciplinary team of researchers will compile and integrate national epidemiologic and health surveillance data with data from urban forest inventory databases to examine relationships among urban forest characteristics and physical activity and health. One level of analyses will examine these relationships between cities, exploring national trends. A second level of analysis will employ higher resolution data to focus on three metropolitan areas to determine the relative influence of urban forest characteristics, community design, and population characteristics on physical activity and obesity. Results of the study will be of great interest to policy makers and professionals working in the natural resources and public health arenas.

Date: 07/01/12 - 6/30/13
Amount: $9,800.00
Funding Agencies: NCSU Office of Extension & Engagement & Economic Development

NC Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve (NCCR-NCNERR) Program protects over 41,000 acres of coastal natural areas for myriad ecosystem services to the local communities and the state. However, growing visitations, diversifying activities and depreciative behavior are posing a significant threat to the sustainability of these areas. The lack of visitor use and impact monitoring data and the limited capacity of site managers to collect such data are hindering the effective management of coastal reserves facing this threat. Researchers at NCSU have expertise in visitor monitoring research and have developed methods that engaged community and park volunteers. In this project we propose to develop a prototype participatory monitoring program in partnership with NCCR-NCNERR. The purposes are to enhance management capacity of NCCR-NCNERR sites while engaging the public in monitoring as a means for stewardship education. Program activities will include focus groups to prioritize monitoring needs and indicators, pilot tests and evaluation of monitoring protocols, and training workshops for NCCR-NCNERR managers and volunteers to sustain monitoring implementation. Program outputs and outcomes will be disseminated to the public (on-site/web media) and in peer-reviewed outlets, as well as evaluated by NCCR-NCERR staff and peer scientists.

Date: 02/01/12 - 1/31/13
Amount: $5,000.00
Funding Agencies: NCSU Sea Grant Program

BACKGROUND: Coastal resource management policy has attempted to conserve natural resources, optimize fisheries, and provide recreation and tourism opportunities. With the recent economic downturn, however, management of natural resources has increased in complexity and economic difficulties have distressed fragile coastal economies and reduced budgets of public agencies. We propose to explore ways in which poor individuals living in coastal communities might become involved in nature-based tourism micro-entrepreneurship. This study will provide baseline knowledge to market-based conservation approaches that might be effective in North Carolina coastal areas with limited economic resources. The study is timely because of the current interaction between green market trends and economic difficulties. Due to the current economic downturn, public agencies need inventiveness and innovation in order to meet their conservation and economic revitalization missions. In addition, the growing numbers of individuals with skills and motivation that find themselves unemployed or under-employed provide opportunities to incubate micro-entrepreneurial ventures. PURPOSE: This study will collect and organize information about ways in which individuals can pursue dignified livelihoods through non-consumptive utilitarian uses of coastal resources for economic sustainability. It will explore techniques by which poor individuals living in and near coastal communities in North Carolina can become involved in nature-based tourism micro-entrepreneurship. With this preliminary study the researchers intend to gather information from existing entrepreneurs to include: a) socio-demographic characteristics; b) geographic location and spatial distribution; c) ways in which these entrepreneurs use coastal resources for the benefit of their business; d) the strategies they employ to overcome business development and operating challenges; and, e) ways they network with agencies in natural resource management, economic development, the formal tourism industry and each other. Findings will result in the creation and distribution of actionable tools for use by extension, small business development centers, and other coastal community development programs, in their efforts to enable the sustainable and dignifying livelihoods and healthy and prosperous coastal economies. METHOD:We will use mixed methods to arrive to a comprehensive understanding of the current, desired and appropriate non-consumptive utilitarian uses of natural resources in coastal North Carolina as well as the entrepreneurs and their business practices. We will search and examine secondary data from agency reports and scholarly literature. Namely we will examine reports related to coastal livelihoods and sustainable community development from NC Small Business Centers, NC Sea Grant, NC Cooperative Extension, and other agencies. We will also mine academic literature in fields such as political ecology, sustainable tourism, rural sociology, and community development for an analysis of insights related to non-consumptive use of coastal resources and micro-entrepreneurship. In addition to secondary data, we will also conduct field assessments in coastal counties. We will work with our local partners (Small Business Development Centers, coastal Cooperative Extension and Sea Grant extension staff and Destination Management Associations) to identify individuals running small nature-based tourism businesses. Once we meet a set of informants, we will ask them to introduce us to their peers, and will in this way expand our group of informants through snow-ball sampling. We are interested in capturing insight from even the more informal examples of tourism businesses; therefore, we will also inquire local residents and search web sites like Craigslist for businesses using natural resources in non-consumptive ways. We will do this to avoid circumscribing our sample to more established businesses or to select factions with closer ties to natural resource agencies and community or

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