Peneda Geres National Park is located at northwest Portuguese mountains and it spreads around 70000 hectares. Founded in 1971, the park mission is to value and preserve natural and human values, for educational, scientific, and touristic purposes. Underlying this statement there is a clear distinction between natural (translated in the concept of biodiversity) and cultural elements (related mostly to archaeological and rural heritage). Engaging with the Park´s discursive practices as well as visitor´s experiences, my research aims to allow insights into areas of consensuality or dissonance concerning concepts of nature and culture, heritage, authenticity, and preservation. My approach will explore how nature becomes both heritage and a touristic destination through official discursive practices. In doing so, I will be looking into heritage making processes and into the concepts of nature and culture that underlie those processes. Methodologically I will complement an analysis of the maps, texts, images, and displays produced by Park´s management with institutional interviews. Adding to that, through participant observation and informal interviews with visitors, I will focus on their experiences of nature and also how they relate with the park´s discursive practices to understand to which degree do these discourses shape visitors' experiences and perceptions. I will also be focusing on a specific element of the natural heritage as a case study: the Iberian Wolf (Canis lupus signatus). I am interested in the heritage making processes concerning this particular species that include the touristic exploration of the tangible and intangible heritage related to the wolf. I will also pay attention to the visitors that look for touristic programs dedicated to this emblematic species. Besides contributing to a broad discussion about heritage making processes, this research project will extend the understandings about the processes that turn nature into natural heritage in a protected area context, with a special focus on animal species. Additionally this research will bring valuable insights about a subject to which literature paid little attention so far: natural park visitors.
Amélia Frazão Moreira
Environment, Sustainability and Ethnography