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A new framework for prioritising decisions on recreational trail management

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JournalLandscape and urban planning
DateAccepted/In press - 15 May 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 1 Jun 2017
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)1-13
Early online date1/06/17
Original languageEnglish


Many Protected Natural Areas provide benefits for both conservation and recreation. The frequent trade-offs between these activities pose challenges for management and require decisions to be made about how to prioritise and direct management actions. Here we propose a new prioritization framework that can provide National Park managers with an enhanced ability to control recreational trail conditions, improve visitor safety, and increase the efficiency of protecting the environment at the same time. Regression tree analysis of a large sample of data collected for the entire trail network in Gorce National Park, Poland revealed that type and amount of use, and type of plant communities, were the most significant factors affecting trail degradation. Based on the level of recreational impacts as well as environmental, use-related and management-related factors, we distinguished 12 types of trail degradation, which we grouped into four levels of degradation to serve as the basis for recommendations for monitoring. We proposed the following monitoring approaches: (1) for trails with an acceptable (minimal) level of degradation – a rapid inventory every 2-3 years; (2) for threatened trails – annual monitoring, preferably immediately following the main tourist season; (3) for damaged trails, which are the type of trail most at risk from further damage – twice-yearly monitoring focusing on sections of trail subjected to changes in type or level of use or subjected to extreme weather events; and (4) for heavily damaged trails – monitoring every 1-2 years, concentrated mainly on sections that may create difficult or unsafe travel conditions. We recommend a full assessment along the entire trail system every 10-15 years.

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© 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.

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