Biodiversity Management for Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational Land Uses
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.
Recreation has its impacts on biodiversity and many of these impacts have been
described in detail (Liddle 1997; Newsome, Moore, & Dowling, 2002). The most
prevalent impact process is trampling, which damages and kills plants, displaces
soil organic horizons, and compacts mineral soils. Off-road vehicles, horse traffic, bikers, and hikers can damage fragile soils and introduce invasive species. These
immediate, direct trampling effects, in turn, have additional longer lasting and
cascading effects (Liddle 1997). In addition to trampling, substantial environmental
effects are caused by such activities as firewood collection and campfire
building, trail construction and maintenance, human intrusion into wildlife habitat,
and the use of off-road vehicles.
The Old Stand Timber Natural Area at Dover
AFB, Delaware, is located in the explosive
ordnance clear zone and therefore cannot be
developed. A biological inventory revealed
that the area contains some of the oldest
and largest hardwood trees in the State of
Delaware. (Photo: Douglas Ripley)
In the field of recreation ecology, a primary conclusion is that impacts to biodiversity
are an inevitable byproduct of recreation. Avoiding impacts is not an
option, unless all recreational use is curtailed (Cole 2004). Managers must make
decisions about appropriate levels of impact and implement management strategies
that keep impacts to within their pre-determined acceptable levels. Biodiversity
impacts from recreational pursuits can occur rapidly but may recover
slowly. This effectively challenges management strategies based on periodically
allowing sites to rest and demonstrates the importance of proactive management
avoiding impacts instead of repairing them. It also explains the common
finding that impacts proliferate over time unless the sites are allowed to rest. The
proliferation of impacts at new sites is usually more problematic than the deterioration
of established sites (Cole 2004).
Hunting and fishing are an integral part of recreational activities on many military
installations for both military personnel and the general public. When managed
astutely, hunting can provide selective and area-sensitive wildlife management
and be regarded as a service to farmers. However, in the United States, in
some instances over-hunting has been responsible for the local extinctions of some
Resources managers should take into account the following biodiversity management
recommendations when planning for hunting and fishing, and other
- 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
- Encourage low impact recreation areas such as primitive campsites.
- Implement site-specific habitat and species plans.
Proceed to Next Section: Special Natural Areas