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Upland environments are too fragile for intensive leisure use

When looking at upland environments I will need to define what is an upland environment.The difficulty which I found was that it was very hard to define what an upland environment is therefore I questioned four geography teachers of what they thought was an upland environment.They replied that an upland environment is an environment, which is above 200 meteres, and these can include national parks and mountain resorts.

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Intensive leisure use is an area where a lot of leisure activities are taking place by day-trippers.

Fragile is a word which describes an area where a lot of activities are taking place but they having a bad effect on the environment therefore making it unsustainable or that environment is easily destroyed by the activities which are taking place e. g. leisure activities. Leisure activities on national parks both have a positive effect and a negative effect. An example of a positive effect maybe its good for a person health and a negative effect could be destruction of footpaths but what should be done is that upland environments need to be made more sustainable therefore they won’t be fragile for intensive leisure use.

In this essay I will be looking at national parks and mountain resorts in MEDCS and not in LEDCS, as national parks in these countries need more protection from tourists rather than one-day trippers. Also only upper-class people in these countries can afford to visit national parks and rest of population are far to poor to afford the transport and many are too busy working in order to have a living of some kind. The motorways and railway networks are not as good in LEDCS as they are in MEDCS. When I am looking at MEDCS national parks and mountain resorts.

I will be looking at the impacts that leisure activities have had on upland environments. I will look both at the positive and negative effects of leisure activities and look at ways in which it could be more sustainable. Finally I will give conclusion whether or not upland environments are too fragile for intensive leisure use. The first area, which I will be looking at, is a national park in the UK. The national park, which will be looking at, is the peak districts and a village called Castleton. Castleton is a honey pot during the months of April- August it receives up to 900 visitors on Sundays.

Already you can see the problems that are going to occur. The visitor numbers are so high on Sundays because many people have a day off work on Sundays and the motorways M1 and M62 are very close which makes it easier for people to travel to peak districts and nowadays nearly everyone can afford a car to travel unlike LEDCS where many people cannot afford the transport and do have high disposable income. The cities of Sheffield (493582) and Manchester (438202) are also very close so many of the one day visitors could come from there. This is another reason for the high number of visitors.

The months between April and August is that weather conditions are likely to be good for leisure activities to take place therefore more visits are likely to occur putting pressure on the environment. To make it more sustainable they need to make the winter months more attractive and appealing therefore this would even out the number of visitors and less pressure on the environment and less leisure activities wouldn’t only be taking part in the spring and summer months. The leisure activities, which take place in the peak district national park, are as follows sightseeing, hiking, riding, cycling, climbing, caving, hang gliding and canoeing.

The impact that hiking and site seeing have is that they destroy the footpaths and therefore footpath erosion takes place and heather and other plants are destroyed and litter may be thrown anywhere. What needs to happen is that people need to be aware of these factors like in Malham there are no bins and people have to take the rubbish away themselves. Climbing and caving have another impact as white powder is left on the rocks which climbers use in order to have a better grip. This can erode rocks and the hooks left behind can crack the rocks.

Hang gliding is another leisure activity which affects the environment as it takes along run up and this activity doesn’t fit the environment it cause visual pollution. The second region, which I am going to look at, is the Banff National Park in Canada and in a state called Alberta. Over 75% of the visitors are Albertianins and the access is made easy by road, railway, buses and plane services to this area. In addition people now have their own cars than they did about 75 years ago this may have resulted in more one day trippers coming to the area.

The popular times of the year are the summer months particularly August and September this is similar to the Peak Districts. There are restrictions placed on all visitors as they are charged fees to enter the park in addition there are camping permit fee and a permit fee for fishing unlike the peak Districts as there are no fees for doing these activities. Furthermore there are very dangerous animals such as bears and cougars that could attack the visitors therefore visitors need to be educated about these animals when they are sight seeing. These restrictions do not exist in the peak districts.

The leisure activities taking in the Banff National Park are very similar to those of the peak Districts. The leisure activities taking place as follows skiing, snow boarding, other winter sports, sightseeing, hiking, canoeing and camping. Skiing does make the environment more fragile as deforestation has occurred in order to make way for ski runs. This results in habitats being destroyed and more avalanches are going to occur as there are no trees stop them. This could result in more deaths but could benefit them economically as more people are going to spend money on skiing.

It will depend on the cost benefit. In order to make more sustainable less trees need to be cut down and winter sports have the same effect as skiing. Hiking and sight seeing may also destroy the footpaths in the park like in the Peak Districts in addition it could disturb the wild animals and plants may be trampled over. Camping may lead to litter thrown everywhere on the grass and this can affect the environment by bear coming getting into the litter either by chewing on coke can or eating ploythene wrapper for sandwiches in addition a fire could occur which result in the destruction of the whole park.

This has happened in national parks in the US again destroying habitats for animals and beautiful scenery. The third region I am going to look at is the Mountain resort in north-western region of Italy. It is an alpine region. This region receives a lot of visitors and the main attractions are the skiing resorts. Skinning has brought positive effects to the area and people now have better jobs that are paid more than farming and forestry. Also the standard of living has improved for the local people.

Roads, water supplies and sewerage have been improved. The problems that are occurring in this area, is that due to a high demand for skiing more enlarged ski runs are being built but this means that deforestation has occurred at the mountain slopes and furthermore there is an increase in the number of winter sports which has resulted in mountain top soil being eroded away and alpine vegetation has been reduced. All of these actions have resulted in more avalanches as trees have been cleared to make way for the new ski runs.

Also the danger flooding has substantially increased during the summer thunderstorms or following snow melt in spring. There are other climatic problems such as some winters the snowfall is light, late in arriving and not lying long at low altitudes which has resulted skiing at higher levels were the environment is more fragile. I will conclude that having looked at each of the different regions for upland environments I have said that upland environments are too fragile for intensive leisure use unless they are made sustainable.

Castleton in the Peak Districts needs reduce the number of visitors in the summer either by adding fees. The roads and the vehicles cannot cope with the amount of vehicles in the summer months although efforts have been made to attract visitors to the during the winter months by adding lights furthermore there needs to be a reduction in the number golf courses. At the moment money is brought to the area by these leisure activities but once the environment is destroyed no one will come to the Peak District therefore the economical benefits will disappear.

This also goes for Courmayeur as the skiing has brought economical benefits to the area as less people are leaving but once the environments destroyed then the visitors will not come therefore economical benefits will go. People can make National Parks and mountain resorts sustainable now or if they do not make them sustainable then for the future they will be destroyed by the leisure activities taking place and their knock effects in addition to this economic benefits will disappear as well.


The research, which I have carried out, is secondary research and Primary research could have occurred but I did no have the time and money to go and visit the Banff National Park or Courmayeur. This major downside of this report as the data gathered for primary would have been more accurate and up-to-date.

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