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Journal of Sustainable Tourism


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Food tourism in protected areas sustainability for producers, the environment and tourism?
Anne-Mette Hjalager & Pia Heike Johansen
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Danish Centre for Rural Research, University of Southern Denmark, Esbjerg, Denmark Version of record first published: 25 Jul 2012.

To cite this article: Anne-Mette Hjalager & Pia Heike Johansen (2013): Food tourism in protected areas sustainability for producers, the environment and tourism?, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 21:3, 417-433 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2012.708041

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Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 2013 Vol. 21, No. 3, 417433, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2012.708041

Food tourism in protected areas sustainability for producers, the environment and tourism?
Anne-Mette Hjalager and Pia Heike Johansen
Danish Centre for Rural Research, University of Southern Denmark, Esbjerg, Denmark

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(Received 5 October 2011; nal version received 21 June 2012) This study investigates the feasibility of combining environmental protection and an agricultural revitalisation strategy which includes food tourism in two Danish national parks, Mols Bjerge and Skjern Aadal. Both the parks include signicant agricultural holdings and, to a great extent, a natural landscape of farmed grassland and arable land. The international research literature documents that park administrations have tended to neglect the role of food and food-based experiences in parks, despite park visitors preferring more attractive eating facilities, purchasing opportunities and food-related interpretation. A survey of food producers and providers in Denmark revealed that traditional, productivity-oriented farmers tended to oppose the establishment of parks, holding the view that sharing the land with others diminished their competitiveness. While this view might hamper rapid progress in food tourism, the survey also discovered an emerging trend of small-scale food entrepreneurship, albeit on a fragmented and uncoordinated level. Tourism-oriented food entrepreneurs wanted to see joint marketing and labelling of food products along the lines of OECDs (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) new rural paradigm. The study identied governance opportunities that could accommodate the wellbeing of both tourists and food producers, but which requires a proactive role from the national park authorities, especially in marketing and the development of events. Keywords: national park; food; producers; governance; strategy

Introduction This paper addresses the issue of food production and food services in national parks in Denmark. National parks are a new phenomenon in Denmark; the still ongoing process of designating areas as parks has occurred only within the past few years. In Denmark, as in other countries, national parks vary in their characteristics. Some are wildernesses with rugged terrain, dunes, rivers or forests and few food-related activities apart from hunting or shing. At the other end of the spectrum are pastoral landscapes that include cultivated farmland or active forestry. In the natural landscapes between these two extremes, food production may play a major or minor role. In the two Danish national parks that are the focus of this study, Skjern Aadal and Mols Bjerge, agrarian areas represent a signicant proportion of the total space, particularly in Skjern Aadal. Previously, Danish authorities preferred other protective measures for nature. As part of European Union (EU) harmonisation, debates about the designation of parks started in the 1990s, and the shift of administrative paradigms has been a long process. The rst national park, located in Thy, in the north-west of Jutland, opened in August 2008, Mols Bjerge was opened in 2009, and the Wadden Sea opened in 2010. Currently, two other areas have been

Corresponding author. Email: piaj@sam.sdu.dk


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nominated as national parks in Denmark: Skjern Aadal (the largest river in Denmark) and, close to the metropolitan area, Kongernes Nordsjlland (The North Zealand of the Kings) (www.danmarksnationalparker.dk). Due to the lack of tradition for national parks and due to the high proportion of agricultural activity, Denmark represents a special and intriguing case study. Stakeholders connected to the parks may or may not embark on a new development trajectory in terms of food and tourism, and new conceptual connectivity and institutional frameworks may emerge. However, competitive narratives about the landscapes and what they hold for people and environments inuence the nature and direction of private and collaborative initiatives. Culturally, Denmark is a nation of farmers, and farmland is a key to national identity (Knudsen & Greer, 2011). But giving a signicantly higher priority to nature and allowing tourists to access farmland for pleasure is a process which will for many stakeholders, particularly farmers, result in a psychological and economic loss rather than a benet. IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) provides a classication of areas in national parks. Danish National Parks are not classied, a matter of concern for nature conservationists who claim that the Danish national parks are unambitious in terms of, for example, biodiversity, sustainability and in contributing to avoiding climate change. Accordingly, Denmark is in a decisive transition in the conceptualisation of sustainability, and from a research point of view, the situation is worth investigating and monitoring (Knudsen & Greer, 2011). The purpose of this study is to address the extent to which food producers and providers were already active in tourism, or prepared in the future to take advantage of food tourism opportunities. The study draws on the international literature, which has introduced the concept of a new rural paradigm (OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development], 2006). This much debated paradigm, which emphasises the multifaceted and multifunctional co-existence of many rural activities, has emerged as a guide to the development of rural areas (Huylenbroeck & Durand, 2003; Wilson, 2008). However, the paradigm fails to fully address the complexities of combining environmental protection with tourism. The present study addresses this need by assessing possible synergistic relationships between food production and tourism in national parks. Accordingly, the study embraces the idea of sustainability, including environmental, social and economic issues. This integrative position is recognised as theoretically complex and challenging, close to being self-contradictory (Clarke, 1997). Converging environmental and economic sustainability is also practically controversial, but pragmatically speaking, the development towards protection will hardly take place without a proper involvement of stakeholders (Byrd, 2007; Kitchen & Marsden, 2011; Plummer & Fennell, 2009). Sustainable tourism and leisure is a process of negotiation and not a rm state of the art, with governmental bodies as potential coordinators (Wearing & Neil, 2009). Increasingly, food and in particular sustainable modes of food production can actually, in many situations, bridge the gap between the three sustainability dimensions (G ossling, Garrod, Aall, Hille, & Peeters, 2011). The current paper takes the point of view that environmental sustainability with a food production ingredient represents economic possibilities and that enhances attraction value for tourism. Literature review Although food consumption often occurs in connection with visits to national parks and other protected areas, the investigation of tourists needs, behaviours and attitudes towards food production in a protected area has been limited. While visitor surveys and studies

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typically cover the entire range of sights and activities in national parks, they emphasise core elements, such as the natural landscape and its evolution, aesthetics, history and culture. In addition, visitor evaluations of specic parks rate accessibility, trail quality, opening hours, service of the personnel in visitor centres and guides, and other interpretation materials (Frost & Hall, 2009; Haukeland, Grue, & Veisten, 2010). Food-related issues are at the bottom of the list, if included at all, and respondents are primarily asked to indicate their satisfaction with picnic areas and restaurant services. In spite of the fact that food consumption represents a signicant proportion of visitor spending at national parks throughout the world, park authorities pay limited attention to visitors food experiences (Dharmaratne, Sang, & Walling, 2000; Mayer, M uller, Woletering, Arnegger, & Job, 2010; Saayman & Saayman, 2006). For example, a 2005 survey of visitors to the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales found that 81% wanted to try local food products during their visit and were willing to pay a higher price to do so. Another study (Park Studies Unit, 2008) recommended improvements after nding that visitors reported that park food was boring and insufcient, and that eating facilities were unappealing in the Peak District National Park in the United Kingdom. However, food does not simply consist of edible items for sale. Lund et al. (2008), who investigated the extended food experience in nature areas, found that foraging for foods, such as nuts, mushrooms, berries, herbs and fruit, enhanced the meaningfulness and value of the visitors experience, whether the products were eaten on location or taken home. The negative impacts of foraging are also discussed, and Savage (1993) recommends a regulation not only for the benet of both the wildlife and the plant stock, but also for the benet of commercial food providers. The extensive literature on park management suggests measures to unite the experience value of the tourists with the protective measures, through, for example, trail planning, guided tourism, interpretation, etc. (Pr obstl, Wirth, Elands, & Dell, 2010). Spectacular forests or semi-wild locations might accommodate events such as weddings, teambuilding courses and sports competitions (Lund et al., 2008), and food may be an integral component. However, food for such occasions is not necessarily locally produced, even when this would contribute positively to the experience value, the park image, the local economy and the reputation of the event (Henderson, 2009). Failure to create linkages between local agriculture and tourism is due to economic and organisational factors (Torres, 2002), but the emphasis on authentic and local produce is increasing and entering the iconography of the place (Sims, 2009). In integrative efforts, the landscape is pictured on the packaging, and the produce is exhibiting locations in the landscape and vice versa. During the past few decades, we have seen the supply of specialty food products increase rapidly, with an expanding interest in local food items and food heritage. While buying and consuming niche food products is partly a lifestyle issue (Germov & Williams, 2009; Vermeir & Verbeke, 2008), food is an integral part of leisure activities and social events. Novel food products predominantly appeal to the educated middle class, the same group that more than others tends to visit national parks as a leisure activity. However, consumers increasing interest in new food products has not been fully recognised by the national parks. Another signicant trend in the advanced consumer cultures is a growing inclination to obtain food at or near the location of production. In most western countries, farmers markets, farm shops and food booths are thriving (Nabhan, 2009), motivated by quality and freshness as well as by lower prices. Distrust in large food conglomerates and retail chains may also motivate some consumers to visit the production facilities themselves (Kjrnes, Harvey, & Warde, 2007). Most importantly, rural food provides an opportunity for excursions with friends or family and enjoyment of the setting and narrative associated with the products. Outlets at accessible distances from larger urban centres are clearly

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favoured by this trend (Dagevos, Overbeek, & Vader, 2004). Visitor interest increases when the rural locale also offers caf es, restaurants, food and farming events, and products that are consistent with the landscape (Schneider, Hinds, Joannides, & Stern, 2006). Tourism research that has explored the increasing popularity of food trails has found a relationship with ow experiences (Boniface, 2003; Hjalager & Richards, 2002; Mason, 2010). Food bridges the gap between everyday life and leisure and, depending on ones preferences, invites either relaxation or activities. Innovative food-related facilities constantly appear, with some built on distinctive local food, agricultural narratives and food history. Examples include microbreweries, salt works, microdairies, confectioneries, chocolate artists, jam factories and bakeries, where visitors are invited to gaze, smell, feel and taste the food before purchasing it (Gyim othy & Mykletun, 2009; Ljunggren et al., 2010; Tellstr om, Gustafsson, & Mossberg, 2006). Tourism is a holistic experience (Di Domenico & Miller, 2012), in which food not only satises physical needs but also provides opportunities to enhance social relationships, excitement, learning and belonging. In this view, food nourishes both the body and the soul. The literature has investigated the entrepreneurial and commercial aspects of rural tourism as they relate to the concepts of multifunctionality (Vanslembrouck & Huylenbroeck, 2003; Wilson, 2008), agricultural diversication (Di Domenico & Miller, 2012; Sharpley & Vass, 2006), multitasking (Bock, 2004) and employment and gender issues (Brandt & Haugen, 2010). Economic studies (Busby & Rendle, 2000; McGehee & Kim, 2004) emphasise that rural entrepreneurs continuously rebalance their assets, and that forces such as crop prices, technology, surplus land or buildings, seasonality and the availability of labour, drive decisions regarding a farm holding. Including tourism activities in a farm portfolio may provide a way to remain on the farm and to continue a preferred lifestyle or maintain the family property (Getz & Carlsen, 2000). Altogether, these studies document the subtle economic, social and cultural factors that lead to the emergence of new products and services in rural areas. Launching tourism activities is problematic for an individual farming family because such a change challenges fundamental lifestyles and work routines. Understandably, a sudden change of basic regulatory conditions can create extra tense conditions, and demand business changes at a more rapid pace than the farmers would otherwise want to introduce. Mason (2010) investigates the diversication process and nds that meeting customers faceto-face requires totally different business concepts and attitudes compared with growing crops for the industrial market. Many other studies stress the difculties of setting up new and economically feasible farm activities (Busby & Rendle, 2000; Hjalager, 1996) because the market logistics are entirely different, and unfamiliar approaches are needed to create results. Most studies consider rural areas in general rather than food production, food provision and food-related experiences in environmentally protected areas. Entrepreneurial issues related to food in national parks have received scant attention in the literature. When addressed, the primary concerns are the co-existence of different types of land use and the extent to which environmental protection measures hinder normal agricultural activities. Bramwell (1994), who primarily investigated developing countries, approached these issues from the perspective of sustainability and what tourism might add to the development of environmental and community sustainability. The research suggests that in industrialised nations, there are both explicit and intrinsic benets for those who combine food production and tourism in environmentally protected areas. McGehee and Kims (2004) study identied three factors that motivate the viability and sustainability of food producers and providers: (1) a reactive approach to compensate for a decline in income from other activities, (2) a

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proactive approach to create additional income and use idle resources and (3) a lifestyle approach to inform and interact with tourists and others in a worthwhile way. This overview of the literature emphasises the need for a better understanding of the issues involved in developing food-related activities for national parks, particularly parks that are recently designated as the Danish parks and therefore in an initial development. There are signicant gaps in the knowledge of how to apply coordinated food strategies to national parks in areas where traditional agriculture continues to play a signicant role. Enhanced insight and awareness into businesspark relationships can eventually inform policies and practice.

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Methodology The purpose of this study is to address the extent to which food producers and food providers are prepared to take advantage of food tourism opportunities in protected areas. The goal of the survey is to determine the opportunities for food-related activities in two national parks and to identify the types of food producers and food service providers who will be most likely to initiate these activities. The study focuses on the supply side the food producers and providers; it does not include a demand side visitor study. Thus, the opportunities are assessed through the lenses of the suppliers, while the visitor evidence is collected from the more general literature on the topic. Prospective survey respondents were identied with the assistance of agricultural associations, tourist boards, municipal bodies and a variety of NGOs (non-governmental organisations). All respondents, who were either located in the two national parks or were in charge of operations taking place in the parks, were mailed a letter and questionnaire and asked to complete the questionnaire online using a link provided in the letter. To increase the response rate, potential respondents also received a follow-up telephone call. Of the 455 enterprises contacted, 136 responded to the questionnaire, and the responses of 126 were included in the analysis. The majority (70%) of the responses came from business operators associated with Skjern Aadal. No respondents operated in both parks. The survey included questions about the extent of the respondents knowledge of the development of the national parks and about the level of information about the development plans. Responses to questions regarding the participants own food-related activities as producers, providers and promoters, as well as their attitudes towards and plans for these activities, were of particular interest. The survey also requested information regarding other business relationships and the desirability of increasing cooperation among stakeholders in the national parks. Questions on demographic variables, such as age and sex of proprietor, type of enterprise, employment and the number of years in business, were also included. Some of the questions had an opportunity for written supplementary information, which was used by the respondents for some, although not many, comments. The questionnaire would take approximately 15 minutes to ll in. A copy of the questionnaire can be found as an appendix to the web-based version of this paper at www.tandfonline.com/JOST. Table 1 reveals that the majority of respondents were traditional farmers, which reects the nature of the population that received the questionnaire. Some of the farmers were involved with tourism, having established farm sales, agritourism, etc. Tourism enterprises included accommodation, catering and museums. Interpretative functions were undertaken by NGOs such as wildlife organisations, sports associations, etc. Others included a nature school, agricultural advisory service and some food shops. The trade associations were connected to farming and food.

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Table 1. Distribution of major categories of respondents. Percentage Traditional farm holdings (livestock, eld crops or forestry) Diversied farm or aquaculture holdings (e.g. agritourism, farm shops and put-and-take sheries) Tourist enterprises (e.g. accommodation, catering and museums) Others (e.g. food-related educational facilities, advisory bodies, NGOs, trade associations and retail outlets) 44 18 26 12 N 55 23 33 15

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Information about the national park Over the past ve years in both the national parks, there has been an intensive media attention concerning the designation and development of the parks. The study included questions about the information provision from authorities and key stakeholders in the designation and planning process. Table 2 shows that in spite of the public attention given in Denmark to national park development, respondents only felt informed, to a limited extent, about business opportunities in the park, except about farming, although even there perceived information levels were not strong. The four elds are positively correlated: the more the respondents know about one item, the more they also know about the other items. A signicant critique about the level of information is raised in the qualitative responses: Nobody seems to be able to give a precise answer about future business possibilities. Important issues are not settled yet, for example zoning. Some of the respondents nd that planning is a political matter where protective arguments have a stronger say than business desires and proposals. One of the parks has started efforts to launch a branding process, but the process has not received a serious follow-up. However, other respondents claim to be well informed: You must, of course take the initiative to acquire information yourself . I am in a committee, we discuss loads of issues, although we do not always agree.

Table 2. Information levels about the national park and business opportunities. Percentage Opportunities for farming activities in the national park Well or very well informed Less well informed Do not know anything about this Opportunities for other business activities in the national park Well or very well informed Less well informed Do not know anything about this Overall plans and strategies for the national park Well or very well informed Less well informed Do not know anything about this Possibilities of working in collaboration with the national park Well or very well informed Less well informed Do not know anything about this 48 29 24 33 34 33 28 41 31 27 39 34 N 60 36 30 41 43 42 35 52 39 34 49 43

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Table 3. Attitudes towards food production in the national park. Percentage There is a need for increased diversity in agricultural production Agree (partly or fully) Disagree (partly or fully) Do not know/no answer Land cultivation and nature conservation should be better coordinated Agree (partly or fully) Disagree (partly or fully) Do not know/no answer More cultivated areas ought to revert to nature Agree (partly or fully) Disagree (partly or fully) Do not know/no answer 81 7 12 75 10 14 21 48 30

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N 102 9 15 95 13 18 27 61 38

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Particularly, the traditional farmers nd themselves in an information vacuum, while the diversied farmers feel slightly more knowledgeable about plans and opportunities in the national parks. The best-informed actors are those who are active in service enterprises, NGOs, associations, etc.

Attitudes towards the development of food-related activities in the national parks The survey revealed the respondents perception of the desirability of different types of land use and food-related activities in the two national parks. It was essential to establish a baseline of attitudes about the balance between nature conservation and the national park use. Table 3 shows that a large majority of the respondents were committed to maintaining a balance between environmental protection and agriculture in the national parks by increasing the diversity in agricultural production and better coordinating nature conservation with food production. However, there was considerable opposition to the idea of allowing productive land to revert to nature. Respondents from the two national park regions did not differ signicantly in regard to diversity and coordination. However, more of the Skjern Aadal respondents opposed the conversion of agriculture land due to the higher proportion of traditional agricultural holdings and agricultural activity in that park. When the respondents replies to the issue of conversion from agriculture to nature were examined more closely, the following pattern appeared: not surprisingly, traditional farmers displayed the most resistance to the conversion of agricultural land. However, not all traditional farmers rejected the idea; 12 out of 48 of the traditional farmers approved of allowing agricultural land to revert to nature. Few tourism-related business operators offered an opinion on these issues. However, those who responded also seemed to be sceptical about letting agricultural land revert to nature. The farm shops, B&B, are possibly seen as an integrated part of tourism, and further restrictions on their operations could counteract the interests of an increase of tourist inows to the areas. A correlation analysis found that, with signicance, those who felt well informed about the goals and organisational aspects of the national park projects were more likely to be condent about converting land from agricultural use. This shows the signicant importance of open access to information and participation in transformation processes.

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Table 4. Attitudes towards food-related activities and facilities for national park visitors. Percentage Information about agricultural production should be available to visitors Agree (partly or fully) Disagree (partly or fully) Do not know/no answer Food-related events should be organised in the national park Agree (partly or fully) Disagree (partly or fully) Do not know/no answer Experiences related to food production should be available to visitors Agree (partly or fully) Disagree (partly or fully) Do not know/no answer There should be more restaurants and caf es in the national park Agree (partly or fully) Disagree (partly or fully) Do not know/no answer N

88 3 9 74 11 15 85 5 10 46 29 25

111 4 11 93 14 19 107 6 13 58 36 31

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Respondents were also asked whether additional food-related activities should be included in the visitors experience, and how the national parks could achieve this. Table 4 reveals that respondents thought that it was important for the national parks to appeal to visitors and strongly supported food-related events and experiences at both national parks. However, opinion was divided on whether more restaurant facilities should be provided inside the parks. The Mols Bjerge respondents were less likely to endorse this statement. This might have occurred because respondents were aware that established restaurants in this location would provide more competition. The Skjern Aadal respondents were more likely to endorse the need for additional facilities because this was an issue being debated locally. Participants answers might also have taken the feasibility of specic locations and the vulnerability of the natural areas into account. The statements in the questionnaire do not link to the concept environmentally sensitive food production or sustainability of the food tourism experience, and the descriptors do not claim particular sustainability conditions of food consumption or food production. In extremis, food provision could be standardised junk-food outlets. When commenting, respondents tend to mention experiences with local types of food and heritage-related food products. When the attitudes towards the availability of food facilities were analysed in further detail, correlation analyses found with signicance that the more educated respondents and those who were well informed about park goals were less likely to agree that hospitality facilities should be developed inside the parks compared with other respondents. The analysis found strong support for the development of the food-related potential of the national parks and a desire for more food products and food-related experiences as well as improved food services for park visitors. However, there was less signicant support for letting agricultural lands revert to a natural state, with the traditional farming community voicing the most opposition. Future planning must address these areas of disagreement among local stakeholders.

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The survey participants evaluated different types of business initiatives. This section describes respondents perception of the food-related opportunities that the national parks provided for their businesses. Table 5 presents respondents attitudes towards exploiting the food-related opportunities provided by the national park. Activities that were especially favoured were those that required little initial effort, such as refocusing the rms marketing strategies and increasing collaboration with other enterprises. Even during the initial stages of development, national parks can provide selling points for the marketing of existing products and services. Not

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Table 5. Respondents park-related business development plans. Percentage Increasing the extent to which you offer your products to national park visitors? Yes Maybe No Do not know Restructuring your business to become more environmentally sustainable/adapted to the nature? Yes Maybe No Do not know Using the national park as a selling point in marketing your business? Yes Maybe No Do not know Developing new products and services related to features of the national park? Yes Maybe No Do not know Reorienting your business towards tourism? Yes Maybe No Do not know Expanding your current business in anticipation of the national park having more visitors? Yes Maybe No Do not know Collaborating with other enterprises in the creation of food-related experiences? Yes Maybe No Do not know N

32 27 29 12 13 29 44 14 37 26 27 10 26 32 30 12 25 35 33 8 21 28 36 16 26 35 28 11

40 34 37 15 16 36 56 18 46 33 34 13 33 40 38 15 31 44 41 10 26 35 45 20 33 44 35 14

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surprisingly, activities that required more fundamental changes in business concepts and larger investments were less appealing. Respondents were less willing to consider new product development and expansion and, interestingly, least likely to adopt more environmentally friendly production methods. Correlation analyses of the responses found that proprietors pursuing initiatives in one area were also likely to consider opportunities in other areas. This was a signicant nding. Those who were more knowledgeable about the national parks mission and long-term strategies were more aware of the new types of business opportunities the parks provided. Some of the respondents who said that they did not plan to shift to environmentally friendly practices commented that they believed that they had already achieved sustainability, for example, by practising organic farming. Compared with other types of enterprises, traditional farms were less likely to consider initiatives to incorporate the national park into their business plans. The longer the participants had owned their businesses, the less likely they were to consider launching new activities. Farm owners who had already started diversifying into rural tourism activities expressed many ideas for business expansion and new product development. Enterprises dedicated to tourism also expressed interest in taking advantage of the food-related opportunities involving the national parks. Respondents voiced enthusiasm and initiative, and certain activities seemed to be in the process of implementation. Ideas for future activities included increasing the number and type of accommodation facilities available to visitors, for example, by converting farm buildings into holiday ats, providing basic camping facilities and improving facilities for campers in the countryside. Comments suggested that accommodation was essential for the enhancement of the nature experience. A number of respondents, mainly NGOs, associations and diversied farms mentioned further developing and enhancing the natural landscape through reforestation, land regeneration and environmentally friendly maintenance of meadows, moors and other semi-agricultural landscapes. There was an interest in improving food product quality and developing new products, including improving the quality of local meats and providing products based on local ingredients. Increasing the variety of products and improving advertising and marketing by the national park were viewed as essential. A wider attractiveness could also be built up by the development of experience-based facilities in the countryside, such as trails, dedicated sports zones, picnic areas and food preparation facilities, for visitors engaged in shing and food gathering. Integrating food, nature and art experiences to introduce new approaches to the use of food products and enhance appreciation of the natural landscape was part of a more comprehensive agenda that some of the respondents would like to see. This also included the organising of food-related exhibitions, presentations by well-known chefs and other food-related events for schools, institutions and businesses. Co-branding the park and the food products is a theme for future emphasis. Local shops, restaurants and cafes should provide food products from the national parks, and they might develop easy-to-use lunch packages and meeting buffets to be consumed in the open. Further, farmers may, according to the suggestions in the survey, provide information and pick-your-own services for vegetables, fruits, berries and other locally grown foods. The study found that there was a high level of commercial interest in food-related enterprises in the parks, and a number of businesses welcomed the opportunity to launch new projects and activities to take advantage of this potential. Some farm holdings had already begun to diversify into visitor services, and these farms could eventually serve as role models for other farms. Participant responses also indicated a willingness to work together to develop and implement events: see below.

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Entrepreneurial and innovative businesses identied many opportunities to develop and market products and services. However, signicant levels of cooperation would be required to launch major events related to the food-producing aspects of the national park, and respondents were open to such collaborative efforts. Business owners reported that they preferred to collaborate with similar businesses. Farmers typically worked with other farmers, tourism enterprises and collaborated in tourism boards and associations. While collaborative relationships were largely determined by tradition, some respondents described efforts to include other groups. An attitude with a signicant collaboration across sectors was altogether not prevalent among the respondents. Respondents also mentioned wider relationships with associations and NGOs to create food-related visitor opportunities. Responses indicated that many NGOs working to assist the national parks also supported the idea of taking advantage of the local foods and food-related experiences the parks had to offer. Respondents mentioned the Danish Ramblers Association, the Danish Animal Welfare Society, the Danish Forest Association, Bird Life Denmark, the Danish Society for Nature Conservation, the Danish Sports Fishing Association, ecological associations, universities, schools, social organisations and health associations, among others. Municipalities were also seen as important collaborators because they were in charge of local planning, regulations and promotional activities. The respondents expressed a desire to expand their cooperative relationships and partnerships on specic topics in the future, recognising the opportunities to unleash the national parks potential. Judging from the responses, tourism businesses and organisations could play a key role. To determine the extent to which participants were likely to be active in the process of increasing and integrating food-related activities in the national parks, the survey included questions about the respondents immediate interest in participating in specic activities. The responses to these questions are presented in Table 6. The table reveals a healthy interest in engaging in the planning and development of food-related activities in the national parks. However, a number of the respondents were uncertain and would be likely to postpone decisions to participate until programmes were established. These responses indicate that the national park authority must ensure an adequate level of communication throughout programme development to encourage others to participate and collaborate. Participants attitudes towards seminars, workshops and development groups were less enthusiastic, possibly due to concerns that such exercises would be too theoretical and vague. Product testing might be more useful to an individual food producer. The positive attitude towards making data and information available to others indicated a willingness to share business expertise. Correlation analyses revealed that respondents who were open to participating in one form of development activity tended to favour other activities as well. Thus, being willing to participate was not simply related to specic activities and methods but expressed general attitudes and inclinations towards collaboration. There was little variation across the different types of businesses (farming, tourism, associations, etc.) about participating in development processes. All sectors expressed interest in developing food-related activities in the national parks. However, with regard to marketing and communication, traditional farms were less inclined to open their doors for events and projects compared with other businesses. Those who had owned their businesses for a shorter period of time were more willing to participate in development activities. The newest entrepreneurs were the most eager to try out new products and services. In addition, the more informed respondents were interested in business opportunities, plans and perspectives related to the national park, the more interest they expressed in participation.

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Table 6. Respondents level of interest in participating in the development of food-related visitor activities. Percentage Participate in seminars and workshops? Yes Maybe No Participate in specic development groups? Yes Maybe No Share information and knowledge with others? Yes Maybe No Participate in testing of food products and events? Yes Maybe No Provide the location for the physical development of food products and services? Yes Maybe No Participate in marketing and communication of the development work? Yes Maybe No Provide space for food events? Yes Maybe No 26 41 33 24 39 37 46 29 25 41 35 24 29 36 36 30 35 35 32 37 32 N 33 32 41 30 49 47 58 36 32 52 44 30 36 45 45 38 44 44 40 46 40

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In particular, the most committed respondents encouraged the national park administration to adopt a leadership role in the marketing of food products and challenged administrators to take responsibility for coordinating the development of food-related activities. Changes of food conceptualisation national parks as frameworks Strategies for promoting food production and food-related experiences in national parks are still in the early stages of development. The study illustrates the complexity of this process, particularly in Denmark, where agriculture is a signicant feature of the parks, a situation that neither farmers nor administrators plan to change. National parks have many stakeholders, and in Denmark, food producers constitute a very important stakeholder group. On the other hand, national and international criticism has been raised against Danish national parks for not having ambitions in terms of environmental sustainability and biodiversity. This study provides an overview of important factors involved in the economic sustainability of food producers and food service providers in Danish national parks. Because food is regarded as an integral component of wellbeing that nourishes both the body and the soul, businesses recognised that there was a signicant demand for a better food provision, and

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Figure 1. Possible relationships between food production and the national park concept.

possibly also higher quality food services and more exciting food experiences for visitors to the Danish national parks. Figure 1 summarises the results of this study and ndings from the international literature. The decoupled conception that characterises food production in other areas of the country is one extreme. At the other extreme is the situation in which food production is completely coordinated with the national park concept. The latter is a broader and more complex form of multifunctionality than is usually discussed (OECD, 2006; Wilson, 2008). As the gure suggests, the reality is not a dichotomy but a eld of dimensions with many options between the extremes of decoupling and complete coordination. When proceeding along the gures dimensional axis, the need for producers to collaborate with other stakeholders becomes increasingly apparent. The lower part of the gure reveals that as food production becomes more integrated with the national park concept, the need for collaboration with public authorities, tourism operators, environmental stakeholders and conservation interests becomes more important. It was not possible in this study to specically identify the food producers who preferred a decoupled philosophy and those who appreciated the advantages of cooperation and coordination. However, other studies of regional food networks (Brink, 2010; Hjalager, 2008) suggest that part-time producers with other employment and those whose business background is in industries other than food production (white collar producers or semisubsistence farmers) have a higher risk tolerance. This difference might be due to the

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fact that traditional farmers must ensure a yield on large investments so that coordinated activities might be perceived as riskier and having a longer payback time. In addition, there are differences in the preferred working conditions. Some food producers are less than enthusiastic about having close customer contact, while others found this inspiring and stimulating. Surveys of Australian food networks show that partnerships are motivated by both economic and personal factors (Mason, 2010). Many farm holdings have diversied production because pressures from competition and lower prices for their products forced them to seek alternative sources of income. However, when social relationships with customers and partners are important work factors, a diversied and multifunctional business concept that embraces the national park concept can contribute to the quality of life and work satisfaction. Differences in motivations and attitudes towards ongoing national park development processes are found not only among farmers but also for other stakeholders, such as tourismrelated businesses and nature organisations. National park authorities seeking to promote greater integration and coordination should recognise these differences and consider initially cooperating with those who are the most motivated. Judging from the study ndings, those who are less enthusiastic will begin to participate when they can feel condent that the programmes being developed will have a positive impact. Despite the widespread desire to protect vulnerable and beautiful natural areas, designating land resources as a national park is a lengthy and complex process that must take into account many conicting interests. Danish farmers have long voiced their concern over the Mols Bjerge and Skjern Aadal designations. Strong reservations and controversies have also occurred in other countries. For example, Moranduzzo (2008) found that the power and inuence of national park authorities in Norway and Italy varied considerably and were somewhat arbitrary. Strong overall institutional structures made collaboration less critical because the national park authority was able to inuence most decisions. This allowed powerful national park authorities to accommodate minor requests from other stakeholders (Haukeland, 2011). However, Moranduzzo (2008) found that even powerful national park authorities benetted by continuously developing partnerships that acknowledged the viewpoints of all stakeholders and included them in development processes, and that this approach was indispensable in parks with less centralised administrations. Food producers will be uneasy if their business conditions are likely to change or deteriorate as a result of a national park designation, or if their ability to act independently and make decisions is weakened by new and more rigid regulations. Moreover, visitors to parks may disturb animals and crops by trespassing, a major problem for farmers. A history of staunch opposition will delay the establishment of productive collaborations. It can take a long time to arrive at the point where stakeholders can address the national parks potential rather than focusing on barriers and conicts. The different time spans for the designation of the two national parks illustrate this, where the hostility to preservation measures and multifunctionality ideas is less in Mols Bjerge than in Skjern Aadal. The case of the French Marais Poitevin National Park illustrates that what is optimal from a biodiversity perspective is not always advantageous for the food production economy. Marais Poitevin was designated as a national park in 1967. However, farmers were reluctant to keep dairy cattle on the grass, although grazing was an important factor in the conservation of the natural landscape. Instead, they continued to irrigate and drain areas to convert the grassland into cornelds. These controversial actions created many conicts with conservation interests. As a result of the farmers land use, the area lost its national park status in 1996 (http://marais-poitevin.org/). Paradoxically, despite the fact that their actions served to undermine the unique regional qualities of the areas food products, the

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farmers and food producers of this region have continued to employ the terroir designation. In Denmark, there is a chance that continual controversies may have an impact similar to that in France. The survey highlights the scepticism of traditional farmers and their reluctance to appreciate the feasibility of new economic activities, often linked to tourism. However, the study also demonstrates that other groups were more open to new types of food-related visitor services. Interest not only was restricted to tourist enterprises but was also found in farm holdings that had already started to diversify into tourism-related activities. For most business owners, the trajectory of the development of tourism had modest beginnings and would take time to establish. Both the reluctant and the engaged survey respondents noted that food-related activities required an economic and marketing rationale. Establishing a sound infrastructure and introducing competitive products were key concerns. The business owners expressed a healthy interest in participating in development processes. However, there was concern about the ability of the national park authorities and other businesses to provide appropriate leadership. Comparison of the two national parks, which were designated at different times, suggests that the businesses gradually accommodate the new opportunities because of the time required to investigate and launch new business strategies. However, it is also important to note that the distinctive and traditional agricultural character of Skjern Aadal, the newer national park, does not uniformly support the development of tourism. The survey constitutes a foundation for strategy and action, but further studies and also in-depth qualitative analyses are needed to follow the process in detail, and further studies are also called for on the demand side of this complex process.

Notes on contributors
Dr Anne-Mette Hjalager is a Professor and Head of the Danish Centre for Rural Research (www.sdu.dk/clf) at the University of Southern Denmark. Her research focuses on economic development and innovation in tourism, with a particular emphasis on rural areas and regional issues. The Danish Centre for Rural Research collaborates with regional partners, and this study has kindly been supported with evidence and comment from Mols Bjerge and Skjern Aadal National Park initiatives and from Navigators, a consulting enterprise. Pia Heike Johansen is an Associate Professor, Head of the Study of Cultural Sociology and since 2001 employed at the Danish Centre for Rural Research, University of Southern Denmark. Her research focuses on the role of landscape and nature amenities in the interplay between rural and urban areas. She has since 2001 carried out several empirical studies in rural landscapes and communities that were under consideration for designation as national parks.

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