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Campsite impact monitoring in the temperate eucalypt forests of Western Australia: An integrated approach

Smith, Amanda J. (2004) Campsite impact monitoring in the temperate eucalypt forests of Western Australia: An integrated approach. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This study assessed the social and biophysical impacts of camping in the eucalypt forests of southwestern Western Australia. This was an integrated study examining both biophysical and social impacts in designated, developed and informal recreation areas used for camping. Four existing and proposed national parks and a Reserve, comprised of 110 designated and 12 informal campsites, provided the study sites. Previous research has focused on backcountry campsites and trails in wilderness areas in United States.

A combined survey approach using multiple indicator ratings and measures was used to assess the biophysical impacts of camping. Adjustments to monitoring procedures used in backcountry areas were made so that the indicators were applicable to designated, developed campsites where a management footprint has been imposed. Visitors were surveyed at the designated campsites to establish how existing recreation opportunities were being used. Further, potential indicators and standards were identified to determine what kinds of social and resource conditions were acceptable to visitors and managers. A rating system was then developed combining biophysical and social indicators of importance to visitors and managers with their perceptions of acceptable change obtained from the surveys.

Based on the indices derived from the rating system and results for a suite of associated indicators, designated campsites were significantly less impacted than informal ones. For both campsite types the amount of tree damage and litter exceeded the standards set by 50% of visitors and managers. Both visitors and managers were generally more concerned about biophysical impacts than they were about social ones, although site cleanliness was of concern. Both were generally satisfied with the size and number of groups encountered, in contrast to study findings from the United States.

This study has developed and successfully applied an integrated approach to monitoring the impacts of recreational use on forested campsites in southwestern Australia. This system effectively and efficiently uses a combination of multiple indicator ratings and measures to produce an impact index, plus social surveys to provide information on conditions, indicators and standards of importance to managers and visitors. It also provides a means for the first time, of objectively monitoring designated, developed campsites where it is inappropriate to judge impacts against an undisturbed control.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Supervisor(s): Newsome, David
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