Recreation ecology

Recreation ecology

Recreation ecology (游憩生態學,旅游生态学) is the scientific study of human-nature ecological relationships in recreation contexts. Previous studies have focused primarily on the impacts of visitors (recreationists and tourists) on recreation resources. While studies of human trampling can be traced back to the late 1920s, a substantial body of recreation ecology literature did not accumulate until the 1970s when visitation to the outdoors soared, threatening the ecology of natural and semi-natural areas.


Resource elements examined include soil, vegetation, water, and more recently, wildlife and microbes, with the majority of investigations conducted on trails and recreation sites. Use-impact relationships, environmental resistance and resilience, management effectiveness, monitoring techniques, and carrying capacity are some of the major themes in recreation ecology. Study results have been applied to inform site and visitor management decisions and to provide scientific input to management planning frameworks such as:

* Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC)
* Visitor Experience and Resource Protection (VERP)


Recent growth of ecotourism has prompted a new batch of recreation ecology studies focusing on developing countries where ecotourism is aggressively promoted. There is an increasing concern that ecotourism is not inherently sustainable and, if unchecked, would generate substantial impacts to ecotourism destinations which are often fragile ecosystems.


* Hammitt, W. and Cole, D. (1998) Wildland Recreation: Ecology and Management (2nd ed.), New York: John Wiley.

Further reading

* Liddle, M. (1997) Recreation Ecology: The Ecological Impact of Outdoor Recreation and Ecotourism, London: Chapman & Hall.
* Newsome, D., Moore, S.A. and Dowling, R.K. (2001). Natural Area Tourism: Ecology, Impacts, and Management, Clevedon, UK: Channel View Books.

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