Applied Geography: Principles and Practice: An Introduction to Useful Research in Physical, Environmental and Human Geography

By Michael Pacione | Go to book overview

18

Countryside recreation management
Guy RobinsonThe impacts of recreation and tourism, memorably termed the ‘fourth wave’ (Dower 1965:123), have transformed many rural areas in recent decades, in some cases becoming predominant within the economy and contributing significantly to social change. The demand for rural land to be used for recreational purposes has added to pressures upon the countryside to fulfil multiple roles, thereby adding to the complexity of rural planning and land management. In their research on countryside recreation management, geographers have analysed the outcomes of existing management plans as well as contributing in both theoretical and practical form to the ongoing debate regarding the nature and use of the countryside. This chapter will outline some of the main avenues of geographical enquiry into the management of countryside recreation, with special reference to formulation of management plans, issues relating to access, and the relationship between recreational provision and social change.
RURAL RECREATION AND TOURISM
Two basic types of recreation are usually recognised:
1 Formal This takes place on managed sites and is often associated with profit-seeking organisations. Management may involve provision of special areas, zoning or rationing demand by entrance charges, a membership fee or imposing maximum numbers;
2 Informal. The countryside provides a backdrop to a range of activities, including recreational driving, walking and general sightseeing.

Various general characteristics within society in the latter half of the twentieth century have produced increased opportunities for both types of leisure activity, notably greater affluence, increased personal mobility, and reduced and/or more flexible working arrangements. The growth in private ownership of cars and improvements in transport links between urban and rural areas have helped to direct a substantial proportion of this leisure towards the countryside, with urban residents attracted by the aesthetic qualities of the setting. This has produced both greater participation in traditional non-consuming rural pursuits (e.g. walking, nature study, sightseeing) and new activities that may utilise a specific rural resource (e.g. mountain biking, windsurfing) (Butler 1998). Many of the latter owe their increased popularity to a combination of greater affluence, ease of accessibility of rural areas to urban residents and technological developments that have been applied to sporting/leisure activity (Mieczkowski 1990). Some activities have also been relocated to the countryside to take advantage of cheaper greenfield sites, the pleasant surroundings and ease of access from multiple urban centres, e.g. golf courses, theme parks.

Another factor promoting increased rural recreation has been growing public concern for the environment and ‘green’ issues, promoting activities such as bird watching and nature study in general. The growth of rural-based ecotourism is part of this trend. A wider appreciation of the attractions of rural locales can be seen in the

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