This website uses cookies

We use cookies to improve our services. Read more about how we use cookies and how you can refuse them.

What are the perceived impacts of Outdoor Sports in Protected Areas?

What are the perceived impacts of Outdoor Sports in Protected Areas?

07 / 04 / 2022


Perceptions about Outdoor Sports by Protected Areas Managers

The SEE Project aims to tackle the uncoordinated approach to the teaching and communication of environmental ethics in the spheres of outdoor sport and recreation. 

The SEE Project aims to enhance the protection of natural landscapes through education in and through sport with a special focus on responsible outdoor behaviour and skills development for outdoor sports leaders, trainers, guides, or instructors. The objective of the project is to build a toolkit giving outdoor sports instructors the tools to integrate sustainability principles into their daily work and to educate their clients/students on  ecological issues and how to minimise the impact of the sport they practice. The SEE Project will also help to promote voluntary activities in sport, together with social inclusion, equal opportunities and awareness of the importance of health-enhancing physical activity all in a frame of sustainable development and in line with the new Green Deal for Europe.

It is recognised that outdoor sports take place in a range of environments and habitats that are often also protected and managed for other purposes including biodiversity and conservation. Some outdoor activity participants may not be aware of the sensitivities within the habitats in which they are operating or be as careful as is necessary to not cause damage or disturbance to that habitat or the wildlife that lives there. Therefore, the SEE project partners created a survey to collect information from Protected Areas across Europe to learn about the various impacts of outdoor sports in nature and to identify innovative practices to effectively manage them. The outcomes of the data analysis will contribute to the preparation of a toolkit for outdoor sports trainers and educators in order to effectively educate practitioners into more sustainable, respectful and enjoyable experiences of being active in nature. The purpose of this report is to provide an overview and initial analysis of the data collected.

This report highlights the key findings of a survey undertaken by project partner EUROPARC Federation of its members who have management responsibility for publicly accessible natural areas where outdoor sports take place. Respondents were asked about the protected area characteristics, its public use, the opportunities and challenges linked to outdoor sports in nature, the management strategies they implement and about the overall perceptions and possible links between outdoor sports and nature conservation. 

KEY FINDINGS: Perceptions about Outdoor Sports by Protected Areas Managers

  • Most protected areas indicated selected hiking (88.3%), mountain biking (57.5%), cycling (53.2%), running / orienteering (50%) as the top 5 most practised outdoor sports (in Protected Areas)

  • The most consistent issues throughout the majority of habitats were perceived to be linked to hiking and were namely issues with unleashed dogs, and in mountain biking where conflicts with other users and practice in restricted areas were usually perceived as the most prominent issues. 

  • 70% of the respondents indicated that they monitor or estimate visitors numbers and 55% follow a visitor management plan but only 9% held the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism (ECST). 

  • 97% of all the respondents have implemented some kind of regulation to manage outdoor sports and they were also asked about which sports were the least compliant with these regulations

  • Overall, 66% of respondents stated that outdoor sports in their protected area are linked to better awareness of nature and environmental issues, and 65% believe that their protected area is more valued by outdoor sports practitioners

Data was received from managers of 94 protected areas from 24 countries.

Read the full report here

This SEE project, is an extensive collaboration with partners from across Europe, including:

Project Partners

  • Leave No Trace Ireland (Ireland)

  • CREPS Rhone Alpes (Lead partner) (France) 

  • Europarc Federation (EU) 

  • Folkungaland (Sweden)

  • INEFC (Catalonia, Spain) 

  • Sport Northern Ireland (UK) 

  • Surf Clube de Viana (Portugal) 

  • Tara Mountain Club (Serbia)

  • Technical University Munich (Germany) 

  • IMBA Europe (Netherlands)