Role of Site Management in Influencing Visitor Use Along Trails in Multiple Alpine Protected Areas in Norway

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Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism


Elsevier BV

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Site-level management such as the construction of parking lots, formal trails and other visitor facilities is a common means of confining visitor use in protected areas. The effectiveness of site management, in terms of providing visitor access while limiting impacts, has not been broadly evaluated in parks in the Nordic regions given the tradition of open access and the prevalence of multiple entry points. Moreover, in Norwegian parks, visitor facilities are often provided by the Norwegian Trekking Association, which is the country's largest outdoor organization, and have originally been designed for public access to recreation rather than to meet management objectives in protected areas. In this study, we explored whether formal trails tend to focus visitor use by assessing observable indicators of visitor use along 64 formal trails (417.3 km) and 234 informal trails (66.9 km). The assessment was conducted across a vast geographic area consisting of 11 protected areas in the Alpine North Environmental Zone in Norway. We found that Norwegian protected areas generally have low level of observable visitor use along informal trails. In comparisons, importance of site management was statistically evident only for the presence of trash, as facilities such as marked trails and parking lots were negatively related to amount of trash along associated informal trails. There was also a trend of less use along informal trails depending on the degree of site management present in the parks. Management implications: •Site-level management tends to confine visitors to established routes thereby minimizing the proliferation of visitor impacts in protected areas. •Marked trails and parking lots result in less dispersion of visitor use. •Broad scale monitoring by line transect sampling provides a cost-effective method to compare visitor use distribution and observable visitor impacts in multiple protected areas.

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