Use and perceived impact of recreation on the Port Hills of Canterbury with examples from Kennedy's Bush Scenic Reserve and Ahuriri Scenic Reserve
The Port Hills are a dominant feature of the landscape in Canterbury. They are also the closest hilly landform to Christchurch City and have extensive road and foot access. Thus recreational use can be expected to be high and continue to increase. But what are the consequences of increased use on the Port Hills? There are 32 reserves on the Port Hills, most of which have been established for nature conservation reasons, but which also cater for many recreational activities. Disappointingly, many of New Zealand’s introduced plant and animal pests have been present for many years in the Port Hills and they too jeopardise the ecological quality of the reserves. Any use of an area produces impact. With increasing use of the area and the range of activities that can be pursued on the Port Hills there is a high chance that increased impacts will result. The first question addressed by this research is the extent to which users perceive use to be impacting adversely on the environment or on their experiences? This study uses Kennedy’s Bush Scenic Reserve and Ahuriri Scenic Reserve as reserves to focus on, to see what the users of the areas do there, and whether there is any obvious impact; biophysical and ecological or social. Research revealed that use is scattered unequally throughout the week and year and that as a result impact, especially social impacts do occur at high peak use times. But it was possible for users to find other reserves where use was still quite low. Management and users do oppose each other on there thoughts on how do reduce impact, with mountain bikers and walkers both requesting single use tracks and management viewing multi-use tracks as a more effective way to reduce impacts. Impacts from introduced mammal and weed species are at this point in time probably more damaging to the ecological integrity of the reserves than recreational use. Manmade structures are also reported by recreational users as producing negative visual effects.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordsenvironmental impact; visitor impacts; Kennedy's Bush Scenic Reserve; Ahuriri Scenic Reserve; use; impact; perceived impact; Port Hills; Canterbury; Harry Ell; perceptions surveying
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