Transformative potential of nature-based values that influence the relationships between reported and intended pro-environmental behavior
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Protected area landscapes embody multiple values of nature that can create meaning in everyday life. Though the values ascribed to these environments theoretically inspire changes in human behavior, surprisingly few studies have empirically evaluated how ‘specific values’ affect actions that benefit the environment. We used Public Participation in Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS) methods to evaluate the relationships among four nature-based values and the patterns of both reported and intended behavior among visitors to Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska, USA (n = 667). We found that wilderness, recreation, ecological integrity, and scientific qualities of places were particularly important for characterizing the Denali landscape and accounted for more variation in intended than reported pro-environmental behaviors. We provide new insights on how naturebased values underpin the decisions of visitors and lead to transformative changes after experiencing a high profile, charismatic protected area. Understanding the reasons why people forge connections with natural areas and modeling how these associations relate to different types of behavior advances knowledge of how to effectively build environmental stewardship and guide public land management decisions. Management implications: Findings from this study provide public land management agencies with insight on what people value in protected areas, the locations they appreciate, and how their experiences may influence their behaviors after returning home. We contend that “nature-based values” that encompass recreation, ecological integrity, wilderness, and scientific qualities of nature are particularly important to visitors and can provide a basis for communication about high and low priority places, as well as spatially explicit guidance for management agencies. Also, we show that as nature-based values increase, so do the reported and intended actions of people who visit Denali National Park and Preserve. As such, these multiple values of nature should be harnessed to inspire and energize more environmentally friendly practices in the future.