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Changing recreational emphasis and the loss of 'natural experiences' in protected areas: an issue that deserves consideration, dialogue, and investigation

Newsome, D. and Lacroix, C. (2011) Changing recreational emphasis and the loss of 'natural experiences' in protected areas: an issue that deserves consideration, dialogue, and investigation. Journal of Tourism and Leisure Studies, 17 (2 (Special Issue)). pp. 315-334.

Abstract

Protected areas provide an escape from oppressive urban environments and provide opportunities for people to enjoy and learn about nature that has not been exploited or dominated by human activity. The value of natural landscape and protected areas in terms of their authenticity, natural soundscapes and visual amenity is being increasingly compromised by overcrowding, the impacts of normal and traditional use, inappropriate and non-approved activities and the rise of protected area use for events and sporting activities.

Arguably the most significant development in recent years is the rise of approved sporting activity and events in protected areas. These activities include adventure races and running events. They often involve intensive use of a protected area and large numbers of people and constitute an increasing trend under the guise of health promotion and outdoor appreciation. People visit natural areas for visual amenity, to be free from noise, pollution and overcrowding. Many such events are not consistent with these values.

We need an increasing dialogue on the appropriate use of protected areas. Do we need to re-visit the original purpose of protected area designation? What message are we giving the general public and protected area visitors if the trend towards increasing use of natural areas for adventure racing and competitive sporting events continues? It is important that we evaluate the appropriateness of uses that do not promote a sense of the wild, authentic and unspoiled natural experiences.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
Copyright: © 2011 Chinese Tourism Management Association
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/9113
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