, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 70–77 | Cite as

Ten Factors that Affect the Severity of Environmental Impacts of Visitors in Protected Areas

  • Catherine Marina PickeringEmail author
Review Paper


Protected areas represent the major method for conserving biodiversity. However, visitor use can threaten their conservation value. Based on a review of recent research, I have categorized factors that affect the severity of environmental impacts of visitor use. These factors need to be considered or evaluated when assessing visitor use of sites in protected areas. They are: (i) the conservation value of the site, (ii) its resistance to use, (iii) its recovery from use, (iv) its susceptibility to erosion, (v) the severity of direct impacts associated with specific activities, (vi) the severity of indirect impacts, (vii) the amount of use, (viii) the social and (ix) ecological dimensions to the timing of use, and (x) the total area affected. Although the factors may not be of equal importance or necessarily assessed on an equal scale, they allow people to make more informed assessments of potential impacts, assist in identifying where monitoring may be required, and indicate where additional site- or activity-specific research may be appropriate.


Park management Recreation ecology Environmental impacts Sustainable tourism 



I thank Ralf Buckley for fruitful past discussions about recreation ecology and the factors that affect the severity of impacts.


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Centre for Ecotourism ResearchGriffith UniversityGold CoastAustralia

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