Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 447–465 | Cite as

The Conflict Between Conservation and Recreation When Visitors Dislike Crowding: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis of the Spatial Distribution of Recreational Beach Users

  • Jamie A. TratalosEmail author
  • Robert Sugden
  • Ian J. Bateman
  • Jennifer A. Gill
  • Andy P. Jones
  • David A. Showler
  • William J. Sutherland
  • Andrew R. Watkinson


We investigate conflicts between wildlife conservation and recreational use that can occur at open-access sites when visitors dislike crowding. A theoretical model is proposed which determines the spatial distributions of visitors to a beach, given their willingness to walk to avoid crowding and the configuration of beach access points. This model is estimated for three sections of coastline in eastern England using data from aerial video photography. Visitor density is strongly and negatively correlated with distance from access points. Willingness to walk has a highly skewed population distribution. We discuss the implications of these findings for the management of conflicts between conservation and recreation at open-access sites.


Conservation Recreation Visitors Crowding Beach 



We would like to thank the NERC/ESRC/EPSRC for funding this work through the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. WJS is funded by Arcadia. Viola Kimmel and Emma Coombes digitised the locations of visitors to the beach. Ordnance Survey kindly provided the MasterMap data: \(\copyright \) All Rights Reserved, Ordnance Survey Licence Number 10024462, 2003. Amy Doherty provided meteorological data. We thank two anonymous referees for comments on a previous version of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jamie A. Tratalos
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert Sugden
    • 2
  • Ian J. Bateman
    • 3
  • Jennifer A. Gill
    • 4
  • Andy P. Jones
    • 5
  • David A. Showler
    • 5
  • William J. Sutherland
    • 6
  • Andrew R. Watkinson
    • 5
  1. 1.School of Geography, Centre for Environmental ManagementUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  2. 2.School of EconomicsUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK
  3. 3.CSERGE, School of Environmental SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK
  4. 4.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK
  5. 5.School of Environmental SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK
  6. 6.Conservation Science Group, Department of ZoologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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