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Mr Andrew Torsney

Mr Andrew Toursney

School of Natural Sciences (Zoology Building)
Trinity College Dublin
Dublin 2

Tel: + +353 85 1550240

Research interests

I am interested in land use management in relation to anthropogenic pressures and identifying the efficacy of interventions to promote biodiversity. Understanding the drivers behind land use management decisions is just as important as understanding the ecological drivers. I am interested in bridging the knowledge gaps between practical ecology, ecological research and policy making. Understanding policy and management structures is a vital element in achieving change. Research into the efficacy of practical management strategies in ecological contexts is my primary focus.

PhD Research

Title: Re-conceptualizing ‘Eco-tourism’ in a Natural Capital context.


Eco-tourism is often used as a branding tool within the tourist industry to capitalise on natural assets. Investment into the protection of these assets is often overlooked creating a paradigm of unsustainable tourism. It is not clear if this paradigm has formed due to a lack of knowledge of the impacts associated with tourism, a lack of willingness to protect the assets, unclear land ownership or responsibility dynamics etc. My PhD research looks to identify the existing environmental literacy and awareness of conservation issues in relation to tourism within the Planning Hierarchy; in both the Tourism and Environmental Management sectors. We aim to use qualitative research techniques in the form of Semi-structured interviews to explore the current understanding in relation to this paradigm to identify the barriers/conflicts facing the tourism and environmental management. The research also aims to explore the dynamics relating to the ‘perceived experience’ of a tourist. We want to identify if tourism is fundamentally reliant on natural assets. For example, do the aesthetics of natural assets influence the ‘perceived experience’ of a tourist? If so, what are the factors that influence this process and do they align with conservation metrics? This will be explored using Self-Administered Questionnaires that will explore key factors identified within the literature such as environmental literacy, willingness to pay etc. as well as factors such as floral architecture, brightness, diversity of colour etc. This will help to identify if the intrinsic value of nature underpins the feasibility of tourism. Research has shown that tourists are driven strongly by reasoned arguments in relation to conservation need; however, identifying the characteristics that influence valuation systems can help to target intervention with broad appeal. If the perceived experience of a tourist is fundamentally linked to diversity and other conservation metrics this would encourage tourism management to engage with nature conservation. The management team at Derrynane House currently manage their tourist destination under the assumption that higher biodiversity will in turn lead to a higher perceived experience. This research will test the efficacy of the management techniques employed at Derrynane House in relation to the floral diversity of Machaire grassland. We hope to identify if the management actions employed at the site are effective in increasing biodiversity and maintaining this Annex I priority habitat. We will achieve this through an experimental design following a BACI approach looking at the change in floral communities over time. This experiment will be run over 4 consecutive years. By assessing and understanding the drivers/barriers within conservation management and tourism management we can work towards creating management tools to align their goals in a mutually beneficial manner. Tools ArcView GIS R-Studio Back to Research Group Members