chapter  7
42 Pages

RECREATION AND PRESERVATION

Attention within this Chapter will focus on the last group, although overnight activities are also appropriate and will be dealt with briefly. Supply and Demand There is widespread evidence of a marked increase in the number of visitors to the countryside in recent decades in countries like the UK and United States, Patmore isolates two important factors - a rapid increase in the amount of leisure time available to most people, and a marked rise in mobility made possible by rising car ownership (see Chapter 10.3),4 These, coupled with increasing standards of living and changing attitudes to the countryside (see Chapter 12) have encouraged vast numbers of people into the countryside for informal recreation. This, in turn, has triggered off changes in the quality and quantity of the resource base which favoured recreat­ ional use in the first place, particularly in terms of landscape (see Chapter 4) and wildlife (see Chapter 3.4). Mercer points out that 'recreation is the focal point of the evolution of an entirely new relation-~ ship between our cities and their surrounding areas'. Like most forms of resource using activity, recreat­ ion can be visualised as an interaction between sup­ ply and demand. Supply of recreätional opportunities will be influenced by both human and physical fact^ ors;6 the former include historical evolution of land use in the area and patterns of resource manage­ ment and allocation, while the latter include land­ scape attractiveness (see Chapter 4.3) and ecological stability of local wildlife habitats (see Chapter 3.4). Nolan7 stresses that the potential of an area for tourism is determined by many factors, including location, existing recreational opportunities, carrying capacity, and degree of need. Demand, on the other hand, reflects factors such as population size, amount and timing of leisure enjoyed by that popul­ ation, mobility, age and income structure, fashions and tastes in recreational pursuits and the opport­ unities available for recreation (ie supply)8. This balance between demand and supply is not static, however. H e l l e i n e r ^ isolates four likely future trends in patterns of recreational activities; a

likely increase in the amount of leisure time available, a significant reduction in mobility caused by energy shortages, a relatively unchanged overall level of affluence and a reduction in the amount of available recreational land through pres­ sures from competing land uses (such as agriculture, forestry (see Chapter 9) and mineral extraction (see Chapter 6). Commentators on both sides of the Atlantic foresee a growing influence of economic factors on patterns of recreational activity, through continued inflation and increasing fuel costs.^ Similarly there are signs that adventure sports (such as mountain climbing and hang gliding) are becoming more popular, and this is likely to continue so through the 1980*s,11 Overall it is likely that recreation will take place in shorter periods of time, at frequent intervals, in close proximity to consumers* homes (thus close to major centres of p o p u l a t i o n ) . 1 2 Such trends will require careful planning to optimise consumer satisfaction and protection of the landscape and wildlife resources so important to the countryside recreation experience. National versus Local Factors Standard cost-benefit analysis of recreational land use is extremely difficult because whilst costs can be quantified in economic terms, benefits in this context are non-utilitarian (see Chapter 2.4) and therefore difficult to quantify in meaningful rel­ ative or absolute terms. Sinden and Worrell13 explore the problems inherent in seeking to place comparative values on non-market benefits such as scenic beauty, wildlife preservation, and outdoor recreation, and they conclude that each has no tan­ gible market value, which makes it difficult to manipulate them in formal planning and decision-making based on purely economic criteria. At the regional or national scales, however, it is necessary to evaluate recreation and tourism in economic terms, particularly if heavy government investment in infrastructure and recurrent costs of recreation and tourism needs to be defended in mone­ tary terms. The regional multiplier effect of recreation and tourism is important, because of the diverse nature of tourism-related employment and establishments, but Baster14 points out that a sig­ nificant leakage of the economic benefits of tourism

often arises through tourist purchases of impcrted goods. At the national level, tourism and recreation are clearly big business. It is estimated that some £8,000 million is spent annually on tourism in Britain, and that some 1.5 million jobs depend in one way or another on the tourist i n d u s t r y . 1 5 As with many of the conflicts in resource use in the countryside, national and local views on the costs and benefits of recreational land uses differ mark­ edly. Naylor1 ^points out that too much attention is given to the few genuine instances of overcrowding of facilities and visitor pressure on certain areas of the countryside, and not enough recognition is given to attempts being made to combat this pressure or the benefits which tourism brings by way of holiday opportunities for a growing proportion of the population. Resource Use and Conflict Generation Of ali the resource-management conflicts in the countryside, recreation offers perhaps the greatest opportunities for multi-functional land use. Whilst inevitably many forms of recreational activity are compatible with others, some are not, and they have to be specially sited. However, most recreational pursuits have flexible site requirementswhich means that they could be carried out in a variety of environments and habitats, Similarly, most forms of recreation can be pursued alongside many other resource using activities in the countryside (FIGURE 7,1) so that in a few cases does recreational land use need to be exclusive. Indeed, the recreational potential of many other rural land uses is implicit from other chapters in this book - forestry land offers a range of recreat­ ional opportunities (see Chapter 9,6), flooded gravel pits offer potential for sailing, angling, and nature study (see Chapter 6.5) and many forms of farming (especially in marginal upland and moorland areas) are compatible with informal recreational use and access provision for sensible numbers of visitors (see Chapter 9.3) Some resource-use conflicts are inevitable, however, where recreational use of land is not fully compat­ ible with other activities such as water supply -

FIGURE 7•1 Compatible Recreational Äctivities in the Countryside The Iines connect compatible äctivities.