Extreme Sports in Natural Areas: Looming Disaster or a Catalyst for a Paradigm Shift in Land Use Planning?

Shelley Burgin, Nigel Hardiman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Historically, visitors' motives for visiting protected areas included 'rest, relaxation and reinvigoration'. Ecological impacts were typically low. Recent trends have increased use of protected areas for extreme sports, with greater numbers undertaking more active recreation, such as extreme sports. The effect of this trend is considered, together with potential management options. We propose that the development of appropriately targeted and delivered educational programmes could minimise environmental degradation. However, to maximise ecological conservation in protected lands we consider that a major paradigm shift is required. This will require a more strategic, holistic approach to planning and managing outdoor recreation/sport destinations incorporating collaboration across stakeholders. Based on past experience, to continue with the current model will ultimately accelerate biodiversity loss, degradation of protected areas, and loss of recreational amenity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-940
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
Issue number7
Early online date27 Mar 2012
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012


  • action sports
  • adventure recreation impacts
  • mountain biking
  • national park management
  • off-road driving
  • policy change
  • protected areas visitation trends
  • snow sports
  • speed climbing
  • visitor impacts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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