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Investigating off-road vehicle use in the dry-wet tropics, Northern Australia: user perceptions of environmental impacts and management actions

Randall, M., Macbeth, J. and Newsome, D. (2007) Investigating off-road vehicle use in the dry-wet tropics, Northern Australia: user perceptions of environmental impacts and management actions. In: ISSRM 2007 13th International Symposium on Society and Resource Management: landscape continuity and change, 17 - 21 June, Park City, Utah


Natural coastal areas in the Broome region of north-western Australia represent a significant recreational resource. The area of interest in this study, 90km of coastal land, mainly unallocated crown land under native title claim and including an area recently granted native title to the Yawuru people of Broome, has seen an increase in unregulated off-road vehicle use and recreational impact pressure since the mid 80’s. Camping, fishing and beach use by off-road vehicle users, both locals and visitors, has lead to degradation and changes to these coastal resources which remain largely unmanaged. Increased use of the area has lead to seasonal overcrowding at camping areas which can stimulate a source of resentment from local residents. There have been few baseline studies of wet-dry tropical Australia, partly due to the remoteness and restrictions of climatic conditions imposed by an oppressive wet season or cyclone risk period. The majority of recreational tourist activity in the study area takes place in the dry season.

The main focus of this project undertaken in the dry season has been a multidimensional study of the impacts and attitudes of off-road vehicle users in the study area. A total of 388 user surveys were collected, the results of which summarise user perceptions of environmental impacts, acceptable levels of impacts and user responses to potential management actions. A comparison within the survey between number visualization and photographic series visualization methods is also presented in the analysis of user perception of acceptable impact levels in the study area. In addition, five management interviews with responsible government authorities and Traditional Custodians have also been carried out to add another layer to the analysis of the data that have been collected.

The results presented in this paper are social findings from the user survey representing part of a much wider multidimensional study. Data includes an assessment of roads, beach access points and erosion, changes to vegetation and an assessment of campsite impacts. A GIS system will be used to combine and present the information in a way that is beneficial to local land managers and contribute to the development of policies for the sustainable management of coastal areas north of Broome.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
School of Social Sciences and Humanities
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