Hiking In Conservation Areas Negatively Impacts Wildlife, Study Finds

Posted: Dec 19 2016, 7:31am CST | by , Updated: Dec 19 2016, 7:42am CST , in Latest Science News


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Hiking in Protected Areas Negatively Impacts Wildlife, Study Finds
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Outdoor recreation activities can cause disturbance to wildlife in protected areas and natural reserves

Many people enjoy hiking, biking or cross-country skiing in such natural areas that harbor wildlife. But a new research suggests that these recreation activities in protected areas can disrupt wildlife enough to flee, push them away from feeding or waste their valuable energy.

Protected areas can take on many different forms such as national parks, community conserved areas and natural reserves and more than 94 percent of these areas also offer recreational opportunities for people. An estimated 8 billion people visit per year to protected areas and negatively affect wildlife with their activities.

“People generally assume that recreation activities are compatible with conservation goals for protected areas,” said lead study author Courtney Larson from Colorado State University’s Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology. “However, our review of the evidence across wildlife species and habitat types worldwide suggests otherwise.”

To draw their conclusions, researchers reviewed more than 200 scientific researches published between 1981 and 2015 and evaluated the effect of outdoor recreation activities on animal species in different geographic regions.

Analysis suggests that recreation activities have a certain impact on wildlife, which is mostly negative. The negative impacts include reduced biodiversity, decreased survival rate in species or direct disturbance to their behavior and psychology.

Hiking and other similar activities turned out to be worse than motorized activities or activities involving vehicle or device. However, researchers suggest that the use of vehicles like bikes or ATVs can result in other environmental impacts such as soil loss and vegetation disturbance.

Mostly reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates were negatively affected by recreation activities whereas few positive effects of recreation were observed on crows and rodents that contributed to the abundance of species.

The results of this study can help land managers to detect where and when the balance between wildlife and reaction has tipped. When they need to limit public access to protected areas and require changes in the recreation activities. These efforts can lead to improved and sustainable conservation outcomes

“The harmful effects of recreation are a growing concern for land managers who must balance goals for recreation and conservation, as protected area visitation rates increase,” said co-author Sarah Reed. “Results of this study are critical to inform science-based solutions to avoid or mitigate those impacts.”

Researchers suggest that further research is needed to draw definitive conclusion.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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