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Review of studies on environmental impacts of recreation and tourism in Australia


The paper provides a review of available information on the impact of recreation and tourism on environments, particularly on vegetation and soil, in Australia, with an emphasis on forests. Efforts have been made to compare the current research and development situation in Australia with some overseas countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. While many documents reveal that Australia has been experiencing an increasingly high level of recreation and tourism use in its environments, only limited studies of environmental impacts of recreation and tourism have been published. Compared with other developed countries, particularly the United Kingdom and the United States, Australia lags behind in undertaking research in this area. The results of these limited studies and some observations indicate that the most common recreational and tourist activities (such as bush walking, camping, horse-riding) can, if not well managed, adversely affect the values of Australian natural and semi-natural resources. Overall, they can affect the vegetation and other recreational sites physically and biologically. Physical effects include track formation, soil loss and/or compaction and an increase in fire frequency. Littering and water pollution are also seen as impacts associated with bush walking and camping. Biological effects include causing damage to vegetation, increasing risk of myrtle wilt disease and the spread of the soil pathogen,Phytophthora cinnamomi, as well as assisting weed dispersal. Based on the information reviewed, the authors suggest the following areas as priorities for future research into the environmental impact of recreation and tourism in Australia: determine the type of natural features that attract recreation use; determine the quantitative relationship between the impact and the level of recreation and tourism use for different activities within major vegetation habitats; ascertain site carrying capacity or environment thresholds for major vegetation habitats and recreation activities; and determine the impacts of recreation and tourism for major regions and major vegetation habitats where there have been considerable nature-based recreation and tourism activities.1998 Academic Press