Special Issue "Environmental Impact of Nature-Based Tourism"

A special issue of Environments (ISSN 2076-3298).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. David B. Croft
Website
Guest Editor
School of Biological Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia
Interests: animal behaviour, wildlife management, wildlife tourism, behavioural ecology, marsupials; kangaroos; wallabies; rat-kangaroos
Dr. Isabelle D. Wolf
Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Ecosystem Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Interests: socio-ecological systems; tourist behaviour; tourism and recreation management; green spaces; public participatory geographic information systems
Dr. Ronda J. Green
Website
Guest Editor
(1) Wildlife Tourism Australia Inc, Australia; (2) Environmental Futures Research Institute, Griffith University, Australia
Interests: wildlife tourism; animal-plant interactions; wildlife ecology and behaviour; biodiversity conservation
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Has tourism become more of a threatening process than an economic saviour in the conservation of the world’s most attractive ecosystems? Curiosity is the human condition. For most people exploring the world’s great natural wonders has, until recently, been a vicarious option through first explorer’s journals and then documentaries. Budget air travel and a burgeoning middle class has opened up most of the world to mass tourism. Is this footprint now too large for destinations to preserve their environmental values? Should we retreat to restricted access whether egalitarian (a lottery to entry) or elitist (a very high entry price)? To capitalize on the positive sides of tourism, knowledge is necessary on the relationship between visitor usage and environmental impacts, the management of this relationship and the promotion of low-impact variants of visitor behaviour. In this special issue we review the environmental impacts of tourism and present original research to tease out this relationship, which has become a pressing problem for some nations and a much searched topic on the internet. Our focus is nature-based tourism. We offer practical solutions to redress the adverse impacts of tourism where identified without being exhaustive on this large and complex problem. We invite papers presenting original research on this topic to add to and enhance this special issue.

Dr. David B. Croft
Dr. Isabelle D. Wolf
Dr. Ronda J. Green
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Environments is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Nature-based Tourism
  • Wildlife Tourism
  • Visitor Impacts
  • Disturbance
  • Visitor Management
  • Biodiversity Conservation
  • Ecosystem Services
  • Environmental Values

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Preface: Special Issue on Environmental Impact of Nature-Based Tourism
Environments 2019, 6(10), 112; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments6100112 - 15 Oct 2019
Abstract
Tourism is growing rapidly throughout the world, including nature-based tourism, but natural habitats are shrinking [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impact of Nature-Based Tourism)

Research

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Open AccessArticle
Image Analysis to Monitor Experimental Trampling and Vegetation Recovery in Icelandic Plant Communities
Environments 2019, 6(9), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments6090099 - 21 Aug 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
With growing tourism in natural areas, monitoring recreational impacts is becoming increasingly important. This paper aims to evaluate how different trampling intensities affect some common Icelandic plant communities by using digital photographs to analyze and quantify vegetation in experimental plots and to monitor [...] Read more.
With growing tourism in natural areas, monitoring recreational impacts is becoming increasingly important. This paper aims to evaluate how different trampling intensities affect some common Icelandic plant communities by using digital photographs to analyze and quantify vegetation in experimental plots and to monitor vegetation recovery rates over a consecutive three-year period. Additionally, it seeks to evaluate the use of image analysis for monitoring recreational impact in natural areas. Experimental trampling was conducted in two different sites representing the lowlands and the highlands in 2014, and the experimental plots were revisited in 2015, 2016, and 2017. The results show that moss has the highest sensitivity to trampling, and furthermore has a slow recovery rate. Moss-heaths in the highlands also show higher sensitivity and slower recovery rates than moss-heaths in the lowlands, and grasslands show the highest resistance to trampling. Both methods tested, i.e., Green Chromatic Coordinate (GCC) and Maximum Likelihood Classification (MLC), showed significant correlation with the trampling impact. Using image analysis to quantify the status and define limits of use will likely be a valuable and vital element in managing recreational areas. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will add a robust way to collect photographic data that can be processed into vegetation parameters to monitor recreational impacts in natural areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impact of Nature-Based Tourism)
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Open AccessArticle
Perceptions of Multiple Stakeholders about Environmental Issues at a Nature-Based Tourism Destination: The Case of Yakushima Island, Japan
Environments 2019, 6(8), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments6080093 - 07 Aug 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
The success of nature-based tourism destinations depends on the sustainable use of common pool resources (CPRs). More often than not, tourism demands compete for these resources, exerting pressure on them, resulting in decline of the CPRs. Managing tourism and environmental resources has become [...] Read more.
The success of nature-based tourism destinations depends on the sustainable use of common pool resources (CPRs). More often than not, tourism demands compete for these resources, exerting pressure on them, resulting in decline of the CPRs. Managing tourism and environmental resources has become extremely important, but also more complex, as the interests of different stakeholders are intertwined across international, national, and local levels. Hence, this study aimed to investigate how stakeholder groups perceive the issues relating to the environment using Yakushima Island, Japan for a case study. Quantitative data were collected by administering a questionnaire to residents and tourism practitioners, while qualitative data were gathered through semi-structured interviews conducted with organizations involved with tourism and environmental management in Yakushima. The study reveals that the underlying environmental issues in Yakushima result from an increase in tourists and controversial management of deer populations. Both residents and tourism practitioners indicated that more trash in the community was the most significant impact of tourism on the environment. Some perceptions were contradictory. Management authorities noted an increase in the deer population, which needs to be controlled to prevent damage to natural vegetation. Most tour guides reported a decrease in the sighting of deer along hiking trails, frustrating the genuine expectations of the tourist. The connection of the deer issue to tourism turned out to be very complex, as an overabundance of deer endangers parts of the vegetation tourists come to enjoy, while at the same time deer are an important part of the tourists’ experience. Different perceptions on deer by different stakeholders add to this complexity, which needs to be taken into consideration for proper management of tourists and deer in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impact of Nature-Based Tourism)
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Open AccessArticle
Recreational Ecology: A Review of Research and Gap Analysis
Environments 2019, 6(7), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments6070081 - 08 Jul 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Recreational ecology is an internationally evolving research field addressing the high demand for nature-based tourism and recreation, and its environmental impacts. This review aimed to analyze the research effort of recreational ecology studies published in four renowned journals in the field, the Journal [...] Read more.
Recreational ecology is an internationally evolving research field addressing the high demand for nature-based tourism and recreation, and its environmental impacts. This review aimed to analyze the research effort of recreational ecology studies published in four renowned journals in the field, the Journal of Sustainable Tourism, Tourism Management, the Journal of Environmental Management, and Environmental Management. Between 1976 and 2017, this review identified 145 papers focused on recreational ecology. The majority of research investigated the direct impacts of terrestrial activities in protected areas, in particular the impacts of walking and hiking on vegetation and trail conditions, and the impacts of wildlife viewing. A conceptual model was developed to describe the varied relationships between nature-based tourists and recreationists and the environment. Future research in recreational ecology should broaden its agenda to increase knowledge on indirect and long-term impacts; including on cryptic or less popular species; establish more specifically how the intensity of impacts depends on the amount of use other than in trampling studies; extend to other geographic areas such as developing countries, and nature-based spaces that are less protected and exposed to high visitation such as urban environments. Importantly, a much stronger focus needs to be on interdisciplinary approaches incorporating both environmental and social science techniques to determine ways of how visitor experiential needs can be reconciled with environmental conservation concerns in a rapidly increasing tourism and recreation economy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impact of Nature-Based Tourism)
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Open AccessArticle
Adventure Races in Brazil: Do Stakeholders Take Conservation into Consideration?
Environments 2019, 6(7), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments6070077 - 03 Jul 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
This case study used exploratory and descriptive research to look into how stakeholders involved in the organization and practice of adventure races in Brazil perceive impacts related to this outdoor activity. Additionally, questions were posed about whether such impacts have been taken into [...] Read more.
This case study used exploratory and descriptive research to look into how stakeholders involved in the organization and practice of adventure races in Brazil perceive impacts related to this outdoor activity. Additionally, questions were posed about whether such impacts have been taken into consideration when planning these sporting events. Finally, the research aimed to understand why racers and adventure race organizers choose a certain time of year and venue to partake and organize a race: whether for more logistical purposes or also considering conservation. Online surveys were set up to target adventure race organizers, racers, and national park managers. Overall, there seems to be very little knowledge among racers and race organizers about social and environmental impacts associated with adventure races. This has led to the organization of events with very few or no specific concerns to the environment. Moreover, racers and adventure race organizers seem to perceive certain ecological issues—i.e., erosion—as challenges to the sport and not a problem to be addressed or avoided. National park managers were the group surveyed with more knowledge about the negative impacts adventure races might have on the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impact of Nature-Based Tourism)
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Open AccessArticle
The Role of Tourism Impacts on Cultural Ecosystem Services
Environments 2019, 6(4), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments6040043 - 09 Apr 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Parks and protected areas are recognized for the important ecosystem services, or benefits, they provide society. One emerging but understudied component is the cultural ecosystem services that parks and protected areas provide. These cultural ecosystem services include a variety of benefits, such as [...] Read more.
Parks and protected areas are recognized for the important ecosystem services, or benefits, they provide society. One emerging but understudied component is the cultural ecosystem services that parks and protected areas provide. These cultural ecosystem services include a variety of benefits, such as cultural heritage, spiritual value, recreation opportunities, and human health and well-being. However, many of these services can only be provided if people visit these parks and protected areas through tourism opportunities. However, with this tourism use comes a variety of inevitable resource impacts. This current research connects potential impacts from tourism in parks and protected areas to the health and well-being aspect of cultural ecosystem services. We used an MTurk sample to record affective responses across a range of resource conditions. Results demonstrate that as tourism-related ecological impacts increased, positive affect decreased. Decreases in positive affect were more severe for park and protected area scenes featuring informal and/or undesignated social trails when compared to scenes with increasing levels of trampling/vegetation loss. Collectively, the results show that managing tourism in parks and protected areas in a manner that reduces impact is essential to providing beneficial cultural ecosystem services related to human health and well-being. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impact of Nature-Based Tourism)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Nature Conservation and Nature-Based Tourism: A Paradox?
Environments 2019, 6(9), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments6090104 - 06 Sep 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Throughout the world, areas have been reserved for their exceptional environmental values, such as high biodiversity. Financial, political and community support for these protected areas is often dependent on visitation by nature-based tourists. This visitation inevitably creates environmental impacts, such as the construction [...] Read more.
Throughout the world, areas have been reserved for their exceptional environmental values, such as high biodiversity. Financial, political and community support for these protected areas is often dependent on visitation by nature-based tourists. This visitation inevitably creates environmental impacts, such as the construction and maintenance of roads, tracks and trails; trampling of vegetation and erosion of soils; and propagation of disturbance of resilient species, such as weeds. This creates tension between the conservation of environmental values and visitation. This review examines some of the main features of environmental impacts by nature-based tourists through a discussion of observational and manipulative studies. It explores the disturbance context and unravels the management implications of detecting impacts and understanding their causes. Regulation of access to visitor areas is a typical management response, qualified by the mode of access (e.g., vehicular, ambulatory). Managing access and associated impacts are reviewed in relation to roads, tracks and trails; wildlife viewing; and accommodations. Responses to visitor impacts, such as environmental education and sustainable tour experiences are explored. The review concludes with ten recommendations for further research in order to better resolve the tension between nature conservation and nature-based tourism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impact of Nature-Based Tourism)
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Open AccessReview
Walking in Each Other’s Footsteps: Do Animal Trail Makers Confer Resilience against Trampling Tourists?
Environments 2019, 6(7), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments6070083 - 15 Jul 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Modern humans, and other hominins before them, have walked across the landscapes of most continents for many millennia. They shared these landscapes with other large animals, especially mammalian herbivores and their predators, whose footsteps defined trails through the vegetation. Most of the diversity [...] Read more.
Modern humans, and other hominins before them, have walked across the landscapes of most continents for many millennia. They shared these landscapes with other large animals, especially mammalian herbivores and their predators, whose footsteps defined trails through the vegetation. Most of the diversity in the wild species is now concentrated in protected areas and visited by large numbers of tourists who may walk amongst them. This review examines the literature about medium-large animal and tourist trampling impacts to uncover any marriage between animal ecology and nature-based tourism research. Methodology is comparable. Animal ecology has focused on the propagation of grazing and trampling effects from a point source (usually water). Tourism research has focused on trail structure (formal/informal, hardened, wide/narrow) and the propagation of effects (especially weeds) into the hinterland and along the trail. There is little research to substantiate an evolutionary view of trampling impacts. At least tourists venturing off formed trails may reduce impacts by following animal trails with caveats, such as risk of encounters with dangerous animals and disruption of animal behavior. This is an under-studied topic but a fertile ground for research, aided by modern tools like trail cameras and geographically enabled devices borne by tourists. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impact of Nature-Based Tourism)
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