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Defining indicators and standards for recreation impacts in Nuyts Wilderness, Walpole-Nornalup National Park, Western Australia

Morin, S.L., Moore, S.A. and Schmidt, W. (1997) Defining indicators and standards for recreation impacts in Nuyts Wilderness, Walpole-Nornalup National Park, Western Australia. CALM Science, 2 (3-4). pp. 247-266.

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A central issue in wilderness management is not the number of users per se, but the impacts those users can have on environmental conditions and the quality of experience of other visitors. This study draws on two recreation planning frameworks, the limits of acceptable change and visitor impact management, to translate management goals into quantitative management objectives through indicators and standards. Potential indicators and standards were identified, via a mailback survey conducted in 1995, for Nuyts Wilderness Area on the south coast of Western Australia.

Environmental conditions of greatest influence on the quality of visitor experience were amount of litter, inadequate disposal of human waste, presence of wildlife, walk trail erosion, vegetation loss and tree damage. Standards were determined for two biophysical indicators - tree damage and vegetation loss - and four social indicators - number and size of groups, litter and human-made structures (e.g. signs). Respondents had the lowest level of tolerance and set the highest standards for litter and damage to trees. Tolerance levels for social effects such as the number of other groups seen were higher. Standards were similar across sites for all indicators except vegetation loss where respondents were more willing to accept change at the camp-site than elsewhere.

These results suggest that management efforts can be differentially directed toward indicators of greatest concern, such as litter and tree damage. The study findings also suggest that managing to meet the expectations of 50 per cent of visitors regarding acceptable and unacceptable impacts is feasible, especially where impacts do not currently exceed acceptable levels, whereas striving to meet the expectations of75 per cent of visitors requires reducing impacts by at least half. Such reductions may be impossible and create unrealistic expectations among visitors and managers alike.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Department of Conservation and Land Management
Copyright: (c) CALM
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