The focus of interpretive planning in Korean Naitonal Parks presented herein addresses, but extends beyond, stakeholders' wants and needs (SWAN). Parks, whether natural, cultural, or historical, have resource-dependent criteria or Resource Protection Criteria (RPC), such as maintenance of biological diversity, that must be recognized and protected. Likewise parks are established, governed, and managed by a set of enabling legislation/laws, policies, and guidelines. These are referred to here as Park Management Criteria (PMC).
It is in the triangulation and interplay of stakeholders' wants and needs (SWAN), RPC, and PMC that inform the interpretive planning process. Each of these three is very much dependent on the park resources, political context, and stakeholders involved. Actual plans will vary with the data obtained. Data presented in this study were collected to illustrate types of data that can inform the process; they are not intended to explain.
The research reported herein addresses developing an interpretive planning model for national parks based comprehensive data rather than solely upon expert opinion. The stakeholder (SWAN) data are triangulated with Resource Protection Criteria (RPC) and Park Management Criteria (PMC) to inform the interpretive planning process. A conceptually based interpretive planning model was developed. The model can readily guide those who try to adapt the model to their park's or park system's interpretive planning.
The interpreters at the parks are the primary contact for visitors and the primary source of interpretive information during the program. Applying a stakeholder-based process gives direction to the interpretive field and interpretive planners. Stakeholder feedback serves as a reference point for assessing effectiveness of the park interpretation. This does raise the issue that some limitations inherent in the park management system, i.e. RPC and PMC, cannot be always changed to suit visitor wants.
The results of the needs assessment indicated that about thirty-six percent (36%) of the visitors had heard about environmental interpretation at the national parks. Approximately fifty-six percent (56%) of the visitors who had heard about environmental interpretation at the national parks participated in an interpretive program presented by a national park in Korea. Regarding how the respondents evaluated the environmental interpretive program(s) they attended at the park, the results indicated visitor dissatisfaction with the programs.
The majority of respondents stated that they expected environmental interpretation programs to affect the visitors' awareness of the park issues. Almost ninety percent (87.8%) of the respondents agreed that environmental interpretation programs can affect citizen decisions about political environmental protection issues. All of the respondents agreed that environmental interpretation programs are important to the future success of park resources management and planning.