Carrying capacities for visitor management - DANUBEPARKS
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Carrying capacities for visitor management - DANUBEPARKS

6.4. Implementing quality: Carryingcapacities for visitor management

1. Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve2. Srebarna Nature Reserve3. Kalimok-Brushlen Protected Site4. Rusenski Lom Nature Park5. Persina Nature Park6. Djerdap National Park7. Gornje Podunavlje Special Nature Reserve8. Kopački Rit Nature Park9. Lonjsko Polje Nature Park10. Duna-Dráva National Park11. Duna-Ipoly National Park12. Dunajské Luhy Protected Landscape Area13. Záhorie Protected Landscape Area14. Donau-Auen National Park15. Donauauwald Neuburg-Ingolstadt

6.4. Implementing quality: Carrying capacities for visitormanagementUp to now, there is very little known about the carrying capacity of natural reserveswhen it comes to tourism an its activities in areas of high biodiversity.Very little scientific research is done so far to deal with the effects of intensivetouristic use of natural reserves.Park managers within the DANUBEPARKS Network do feel very uncomfortableand do have a great lack of knowledge on the impact of tourism on species andhabitats in their parks. The question is not only if tourism is already causing problemsto the parks, but where are future perspectives to improve and boost tourism in theparks without endangering its value.Nature tourism is on of the most important fields for the parks to show theirpotentials to the public and to stakeholders and to improve and foster environmentaleducation.To know about the impact of tourism on species an habitats in the protected area isone of the most important things to do a proper management.

Carrying capacity is used in the context of sustainable tourism. It is often proposedas a method to evaluate the intensity of tourist development a tourist destination cansupport taken into account the ecological, economical and social characteristics ofthat destination.In literature that deals with this topic, an interesting definition was found:The maximum amount of visitors that can be at the same time in the tourist destination withoutcausing negative effects on the physical, economical and socio-cultural values of society/communityand without causing a (considerable) decrease in visitors’ satisfaction.In protected areas management the simple question ‘how much is too much?’ isnot an easy one to answer.Because of the complexity of policy and management, carrying capacity has toevolve from a single concept (a limit to the maximum number of visitors that onecan receive) to an information system/a monitoring system that helps in decisionmaking.

This monitoring system is unique for every Protected Area since they differ from oneto another, from the Upper and Middle Danube to the Lower Danube Region. Forthis reason the monitoring system has to be designed specifically for the area in case.It will always take into account environmental, social and economic indicators in sucha way that the interest of all stakeholders and the area itself are well balanced and canprogress.These particularities are mentioned in the Strategy Plan for Sustainable Tourismin the Danube Delta, elaborated by WES KennisCentrum Regionale Economie, inthe Project Development of the potential for sustainable tourism in a Natura 2000wetland area: the Danube Delta case (2008).

These ideas were stressed also in the Master Plan – support for the sustainabledevelopment in Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, where a Chapter was dedicatedto the tourism, that can produce big losses to the protected areas, especially if it isnot managed properly but, in the same time, it can bring huge benefits.According to DDBRA Management Plan, tourism development based on thecarrying capacity of the reserve ecosystems is closely linked to the development of amonitoring systems in order to have a clear evidence and control of the tourists flow.In order to establish the limits up to which the tourism development andinfrastructure do not affect the carrying capacity of the Protected Areas, thefollowing studies are required:- Study for the evaluation of the optimum standing capacity (Carrying capacity)- Study for the assessment of the tourism impact on natural ecosystems- Study for the elaboration of measures to reduce the negative impact caused bytourism activity.In the same time, a correct and real evaluation of the tourism impact on theenvironment needs experience and time.

The relation between the number, activities, visitors behavior and their environmentalimpact has to be identified and a proper research in the area is required.Based on the natural, cultural and historical values assessment and visitors potentialimpact, adequate measures can be taken for the visitors management, such as: decide on the adequate number of visitors and set up limits to avoid and reducethe impact on the natural, cultural and historical values decide on the adequate facilities and services for visitors as well as best practiceand management standardspromoting conservation practices for the visitors facilities management: energyefficiency, waste recycleImprove the visitors behavior by promoting tourist handbooks and codes regardingenvironmental protection rules

Once the visitors management is implemented, the visitors activities, facilities andservices impact has to be assessed. This monitoring system will be focused on thedevelopment of a warning system that will indicate the following preventionmeasures:Reducing the visitors impact on the area by limiting the visitors number andduration of visit or improving the access and promotion of alternative tourist areasImproving visitors behaviorStrenghten the area support capacityBased on the carrying capacity study, a partnership between the Protected Area,local authorities and tourism stakeholders must be developed, including thecoordination of visitors flows and therefore of the distribution of visitor pressureon natural habitats.

As a pilot, DDBRA and LKR N-S will assess their carrying capacities and integratetheir gained know-how into a joint transferrable CARRYING CAPACITYTOOL, that will be made available to all partners of the network at the workshopin DDNPD in autumn 2013.This workshop will also be used for experience exchange on visitor guidinginstruments, where DDBRA will present plans for a tourist handbook (includingmaps, useful information, visitor rules, etc) based on the carrying capacityassessment (to be produced in 2014).The scientific experts working for species and habitats sensitive on humandisturbance from WPs 4 and 5 of this project will integrate their specific knowledgehere.

Work to be done: (by NI/DDBRA)- Research on scientific literature (NI)- Developing a score sheet to access touristic infrastructurein the parks (NI)- Developing a matrix on species and habitats to definetheir sensitivity against tourism (as is done in some parksin the US) (NI)- Research on the field and case studies in one of the parks(Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve) (DDBRA)- If necessary within a second park (possibly Danuberiparian forest Neuburg-Ingolstadt) DDBRA/NI)- Making an attempt to recommend on what kind ofimpact each specific habitat or species can tolerate(DDBRA)- Takling with certain differences and uncertainties(existing infrastructure, sensitivity of species…) (DDBRA)- Designing and developing a tool for all partners to makeit easy for park managers to screen their park an find outtheir specific carrying capacity (NI)- Common final report (NI and DDBRA) (period 3)

Milestones:- Tourism Task Force Meeting in autumn 2012 (at the Kick-Off conference),discussion of the scientific research program- Task Force Meeting Tourism in DDNPD in autumn 2013 with focus on pilotproject experience exchange- Application of carrying capacity tool by partners of the Network in Period 4Role of each partner:LKR N-S: subcontracting assessment experts, development of assessment tool, pilotassessment, coordination of the carrying capacity assessment tool together withDDBRA experts.DDBRA: subcontracting assessment experts, development of assessment tool, pilotassessment, production of tourist handbook based on carrying capacity assessment(period 4), cooperation with LKR N-S, integration of experts from WPs 4 and 5.DDNPD: organization of the workshop in autumn 2013 (same as in act. 6.3) totransfer the experiences to all partners.6.4. Budget: 137,014.00 EuroExternal: 107,000.00 Euro

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