Environmental Management

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 405–416 | Cite as

Disturbance of natural vegetation by camping: Experimental applications of low-level stress

  • David N. Cole


Previously undisturbed sites in four different vegetation types were camped on for one night and for four nights. Changes in vegetation cover and vegetation height were measured after camping and one year later. Results are presented separately for different campsite zones—parts of the site where campers slept, cooked meals, and stored their packs. Just one night of camping was sufficient to cause evident impact in all four vegetation types, although the amount of impact varied significantly between zones and between vegetation types. Vegetation impact on campsites used four nights was generally less than twice as severe as impact on the sites used one night. The effects of camping on vegetation were also predicted for 12 other vegetation types on the basis of vegetational responses to experimental trampling. These results suggest that impact can almost always be minimized by confining camping to a small number of campsites instead of dispersing use across many campsites.

Key Words

Campsites Ecological impact Resistance Vegetation impact Wilderness 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • David N. Cole
    • 1
  1. 1.Forest Service, U.S. Department of AgricultureAldo Leopold Wilderness Research InstituteMissoulaUSA

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