The provision of leisure and recreational activities is one of the most valued land uses in an installation’s mixed-use inventory, and biodiversity frequently plays a key role. The aesthetic qualities of an area are often tied to its range of biological diversity. People value biologically diverse areas for a variety of active (hunting, fishing, swimming, cycling, hiking) and passive (photography, bird watching, contemplation) recreational pursuits.

Biodiversity is a significant source of leisure activities. It is a focal point for tourism and all kinds of recreational activity, which are undergoing rapid expansion in natural environments and are often the main source of income for the local population. The aesthetic qualities of such areas are often unusually different, in large part due to the range of biological diversity. People value such areas for a variety of recreational pursuits: film, photographs or literature based on or using wildlife, natural habitats and natural features; bird watching; and ecological field study and other scientific pursuits. Understanding the consequences of both human and natural forms of disturbance is a key challenge in community ecology.


Nature managers and recreation stakeholders may have opposing views about biodiversity conservation plans and actions, and nature managers and biodiversity conservationists may disagree about recreation plans and actions. To resolve this dilemma between recreational development and biodiversity conservation, scientists, policy makers, local managers, and user groups must together seek a solution Scientists can contribute to conflict management by providing objective information and helping to justify management plans and actions. However, they are hampered by a shortage of knowledge, the inadequacy of their approaches, and the inaccuracy of their familiarity. The major gaps in knowledge concern visitors’ spatial use of nature areas, the impact of visitors on biodiversity values at the landscape scale, and the effectiveness of measures to influence the trade-off between biodiversity conservation and recreational use. Stakeholders are becoming more involved in deciding about land use issues and often have a good knowledge of local history and conditions. Compared with scientists these stakeholders have opposing opinions about what should or should not be considered as a problem and know how to use the law to their advantage to preclude changes they consider undesirable. The mission of recreation at all levels should support the conservation and stewardship of land, water, and natural resources.

Resources managers should take into account the following biodiversity management recommendations when planning for hunting and fishing, and other recreation opportunities:

  • Ensure biodiversity management is integral to recreation planning and management.
  • Provide educational materials and/or workshops for target audiences to raise awareness of biodiversity.
  • Strengthen wildlife management policies and practices to minimize impacts on biodiversity objectives.
  • Encourage low impact recreation areas such as primitive campsites.
  • Implement site-specific habitat and species plans.


There are both positive and negative impacts of recreation on biodiversity. Positive effects of recreation on wildlife were frequently observed on birds in the crow family and mammals in the rodent order. These effects included increased abundance and reduced flight responses. The harmful effects of recreation are a growing concern for land managers who must balance goals for recreation and conservation, as protected area visitation rates increase .There is still much to know about the impacts of recreation on wildlife. We must start by simply acknowledging that recreation and conservation are not always compatible for all species, in all locations. It might be time to establish limits on public access to protected areas, and encourage changes in the behaviour of recreationists, leading to improved conservation outcomes.