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recreation and tourism

management by whom for whom?

Awareness of these issues is becoming more common. Land managers have to accom- modate and control different uses and expectations in such a way as to protect valuable natural resources but still provide for quality recreation.

Most of the Australian High Country is public land. Management of recreation as a land use is therefore the responsibility of State government and Territory government land manage- ment agencies.

Within the public land of the Alps there are areas of different land category such as national parks, state forests and alpine resorts. These public lands have different management objec- tives as directed by their relevant Acts, and in some cases are managed by different agencies.

For example, Parks Victoria manages the Alpine National Park but the Victorian Alpine Resorts Co-ordinating Council (VARCC) overseas the management of the adjoining alpine resorts. The objective of both Parks Victoria and the VARCC and individual mountain man- agement boards is to protect the natural environment and provide for public recreation, enjoyment and use of the land. Parks Victoria has to manage the park for a very broad range of purposes; the VARCC and individual boards’ main focus is provision for intensive use associated with winter sports. This means that it is particularly concerned with issues such as providing ski slopes and infrastructure needs to cater for large numbers of visitors to the resorts. For example, the need for car parking and effluent disposal has to be considered.

planning and monitring

Acts of Parliament for national parks require the appropriate land management agencies to prepare a management plan for each park. The aim is to identify, understand, balance and control land uses to ensure the protection of the natural environment into the future. The plans set out ways to use the park for recreation activities without impairing the natural environment.

The protection and preservation of the natural environment is of primary concern in a national park, and so the effects of recreation activities are of major concern for the man- agers. These effects can be environmental, including effects on soils, vegetation, water quality and wildlife, or social: access to parks, encounters with other visitors, incompatible activities, presence of facilities and evidence of management practices. Various indicators are used to measure these effects.

Carrying capacity Inappropriate levels of recreational use can lead to environmental damage. Damage can be minimized by measuring the capacity of an area for recreational activities and either restricting its use to that capacity or providing facilities that will minimise damage. An example is the metal walk way which walkers use to walk from Thredbo to Mount Kosciuszko. It was put in to stop erosion on the track but still allow many people to climb our highest mountain. ‘Recreational carrying capacity’ is the type and level of use that can be sup- ported without causing excessive damage to the physical environment or diminishing the quality of the user’s recreation experience.

Monitoring and evaluation programs Monitoring programs can help determine the environmental and social impacts of recreation activities. Quantitative monitoring includes collecting visitor statistics and measuring impacts on vegetation and soils. Qualitative monitoring involves site inspections, observations, and surveys seeking opinions on the needs and expectations of visitors.


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