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Recreational activities in protected areas harming wildlife, says study

Protected areas include national parks, wilderness areas, community conserved areas, nature reserves and privately-owned reserves.


Recreational activities in protected areas harming wildlife, says study

New York: Almost everyone will agree that recreational activities like hiking, mountain biking, mountain climbing, etc, are all super fun and adventurous.

Most of them take place in forests and the best locations are the ones that are somewhat untouched by the daily disturbances caused by human activities, which means protected areas.

This may be adventurous for you, but does the wildlife feel safe? Apparently not.

A new study has suggested that recreational activities like hiking in protected areas has a negative impact on wildlife.

Nature-based outdoor recreation is the most widespread human land use in protected areas and is permitted in more than 94 per cent of parks and reserves globally, the researchers said.

Hiking, a common form of outdoor recreation in protected areas, can create a negative impact by causing animals to flee, taking time away from feeding and expending valuable energy, the study said.

"People generally assume that recreation activities are compatible with conservation goals for protected areas," said lead author Courtney Larson from Colorado State University in the US.

"However, our review of the evidence across wildlife species and habitat types worldwide suggests otherwise," Larson noted.

Protected areas include national parks, wilderness areas, community conserved areas, nature reserves and privately-owned reserves.

Decreased species diversity, survival, and behavioural or physiological disturbance such as decreased foraging or increased stress are among the negative effects of outdoor recreation in protect areas, according to the study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Surprisingly, studies of hiking and other non-motorised activities found negative effects on wildlife more frequently than studies of motorised activities.

However, since motorised activities generally cover a larger area, their influence on animals can also be widespread.

"They can also result in other environmental impacts, such as soil loss and vegetation disturbance," Larson said.

(With IANS inputs)

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