A guilt-free roll in the grass: minimal short-term impacts from short-term camping in the Australian Alps
Back-country camping is a popular ecotourism activity in protected areas, including in Australia. Few studies have, however, used a manipulative experimental approach to quantify the impacts of camping. Here the impacts of four people camping for three nights on intact tall alpine herbfield and subalpine grasslands in the Australian Alps were quantified. Campsites were divided into three zones (tent, activity and control). Camping only caused decreases in vegetation height and cover in the tent and activity zones with only height effects still significant 6 weeks post-camping. This suggests that these alpine communities are relatively resistant to short-term camping activities by small groups. When the impacts of camping were compared with those from trampling experiments run concurrently, it is apparent that once these communities are damaged by recreation use, they are slower to recover. With consideration to this, dispersed and minimal impact practices should continue to be encouraged, as inappropriate behaviour (such as fire scars, cuts to trees, litter) and repeated campsite use may result in lasting damage.
Journal of Ecotourism
Impacts of Tourism