Modelling the ecological, behavioural and perceptual dimensions of outdoor recreation, using Loch Lomond as a case study
A variety of econometric models have been created, including a travel cost model, contingent behaviour models and a contingent valuation model. Based on these models a “typical” day at Loch Lomond is valued at £20.53, with visitors willing to pay an additional £1.76 to fund environmental improvements. Looking at the particular environmental issues of noise, crowding and environmental damage, noise pollution appears to have the greatest influence on recreation enjoyment. Noise pollution is caused primarily by the use of personal watercraft (“jet-skis”). It was found that an asymmetrical conflict exists between jet-skiers and non jet-skiers. The research project reveals that there is no simple relationship between the perception of and reality of environmental damage. Although visitor perception of environmental damage often differs from actual levels of environmental damage, the relationship is complex. In terms of “real” environmental impact around the loch area, the visitor-induced environmental damage survey estimates that just over 9% of the loch shore suffers from severe environmental impact. Ecological vegetation surveys also confirm that recreation pressure is a statistically significant influence on the presence/absence of plant communities, but that this ecological impact is spatially limited to specific sites around the loch. Following on from both the perceptual and ecological results, policy and management implications are investigated and recommendations are provided – for example the implementation of a possible vehicle parking fee at various sites around Loch Lomond. It is suggested that recreational carrying capacity frameworks such as VERP should be applied, as they assimilate the ecological and social facets of outdoor recreation. An overall conclusion to the thesis is thus that a sustainable approach (framework) to recreation management, one that encompasses the perceptual and ecological dimensions of outdoor recreation, is the only way of maintaining the beauty and enjoyment of Loch Lomond – and, it is suggested, national parks world-wide – for present and future generations.