Human-Nature Interactions and Impacts of Tourist Activities on Protected Areas
HUMANITA places the relationship between humans and nature at its centre, as this relationship is key to the survival of our species on the social and political levels. Opting for healthy human and ecological communities is a decision we can take that will require us to find new ways to live and run our economies. The project aims to prevent human-nature conflicts and seeks the adoption of measures to improve relationships with nature, both as individual and collective choices.
Therefore, the HUMANITA project focuses on the joint development of new complementary tools and methods of tourists' impact assessments based on transnational exchanges of experiences to better evaluate environmental conditions and trends, take explicit managerial responses and actions, and develop information for national and EU policymakers and the public. With the development of evidence-based and participatory management tools, the project allows regions to better monitor and evaluate the impact of tourism in protected areas and support protected area managers to make smarter decisions, prevent negative impacts and human-nature conflicts, and reduce risks.
The project is being implemented with the involvement of 11 partners from five countries and contemplating five pilot sites, delivering a transnational monitoring strategy, pilot actions to test monitoring methods for database collection and analysis, and policy recommendations for human-nature conflict management.
In Central Europe, protected areas are facing increasing pressures on landscapes, natural assets, ecosystems and biodiversity caused by improper land use, pollution, over-extraction of natural resources and the spread of invasive alien species. With the increase of nature-related touristic activities — further intensified due to the pandemic — protected areas are experiencing a growing number of visitors and tourist activities. Recreational activities, like hiking, mountain biking, or skiing, lead to various environmental impacts on physical and hydrological processes, as well as on ecology and wildlife. Such activities further cause various user conflicts which are mostly based on unclear regulations and unauthorised uses.
While the increased demand and interest in outdoor activities are great opportunities for protected areas, they also represent a challenge for protected areas (PAs) to meet visitors’ expectations and protect natural values. In 2020, PAs in Europe covered an area of 26 % of EU land; to reach the targets of the EU biodiversity strategy 2030, this number should be increased to 30 % (EC 2020). To better manage protected areas’ visitor load and tourist activities, it is essential to better understand trends and dynamics caused by recreational activities. However, there is a lack of a comprehensive monitoring system that assures objective grounds and comparability between PAs. Its establishment will be essential to draw a meaningful picture of how tourist activities are impacting the environment, as well as to establish the foundations for more effective management plans for protected areas, including action plans.
Goals & Objectives
- Assist protected area managers in implementing the proper measures in the right places for tourism in protected areas;
- Develop measures that prevent the negative impacts of tourism in protected areas;
- Improve human-nature relationships and minimise associated conflicts;
- Identify and measure the impacts of recreational activities on natural assets in protected areas;
- Explore and analyse temporal and spatial variations of various tourist activities and correlate them with different environmental indicators to illustrate the potential influence of human activities;
- Understand visitors' perceptions of their impacts on natural assets inside protected areas; and
- Seek solutions that inspire more positive human-nature relationships in tourism through innovative approaches.
- Demonstrate the use of innovative approaches to measuring the environmental impacts of tourism inside protected areas (PAs).
- Develop a Transnational Monitoring Strategy to measure the environmental impacts of tourist activities in PAs.
- Pilot actions in five pilot sites — testing of innovative monitoring methods, data collection and analysis monitoring environmental impacts of tourists activities based on the Transnational Monitoring Strategy.
- Develop policy recommendations for human-nature conflict management.
- Develop new complementary tools and methods of tourist impact assessment.
- Investments for visitor flow monitoring, data collection and analysis, and a new educational monitoring trail to show visitors how to monitor their impact on nature.
Types of services
- Monitoring, data collection and analysis
- Comparative analysis
- Networking; consultation with stakeholders
- Multi-sectoral dialogue organisation
- Collaborative coordination