Control of impacts due to public use

Posted in Infrastructures

escalerasThe public use is irretrievably associated with some negative impact on the natural environment, which is more or less serious depending on the number of visitors, the distribution area and the time of the year. It is therefore essential to carry out a follow-up to the Public Use. Almost all impacts are caused by an excessive number of visitors practicing their activity in areas that do not support so much use. In most cases, it is a number problem, since a bike going through the Peñalara grasslands is not a problem, but dozens of bikes are a problem.

For this reason are being carried out proceedings and management measures that attempt to minimize these negative impacts and prevent others. Some of these measures are the following:

Adequacy of trails

tarimaThe adequacy of the trails is a need especially in certain National Park areas. The fragility of the natural environment and the number of visitors who attend can have serious consequences. The adequacy of trails can take several forms:

  • Installation of cobbled walkways and bridges. On fragile or humid soil paved or wooden walkways are being installed, as to prevent soil erosion and the formation of mudflat just widening the road. In these cases, some visual impact is preferable in exchange for a clear path with moderate degree of impact instead of many parallel paths avoiding muddy areas.
  • Adequacy of water steps to prevent the entry of runoff to the path that leads to their deterioration and to prevent the natural flow of water.
  • Steps. In some areas where the gradient is accused, the passage of thousands of visitors cause a very strong erosion. To decrease it, large stones or treated wood holding the ground steps are installed to prevent the formation of gullies and soil loss.
  • Consolidation of staying areas. In some public gathering areas, as sources or viewpoints, it is necessary to strengthen the field with graded aggregates, stones or other items to avoid degradation.
  • Gutters. The tracks ditches maintenance through its periodic cleaning is essential to ensure the correct evacuation of water and to prevent deterioration of the track.
  • Walls of containment and deterrent. Sometimes small dry stone walls are built, for the purpose of containing the tractors in the field and to deter visitors from taking shortcuts or roads that are not allowed as they increase the degree of impact.
  • Signaling. The information is critical for the visitor, as many of the impacts are caused by ignoring the limitations or not realizing what allowed roads are. For this reason, a comprehensive sign system will be installed, either on sites or general rules, as to help avoiding the problems derived from the lack of information.

Diversion of roads and temporary closures

cartel reservaSometimes, when the impacts on the ground are as severe as to require urgent and somehow important proceedings, it is necessary to make a roads diversion or even to temporary close pathways or areas in order to avoid stepping on and permit regeneration. In most cases these closures are temporary until the degraded area retrieves or the necessary equipment to minimize the impact is installed.

Another reason to close some areas to the use and enjoyment of the public is in order to protect species nesting or breeding. In these cases, the closure or the regulation takes the time necessary to grant  the passage of visitors will not endanger the reproduction.

Plantations

Together with the work of pathways or areas adequacy, planting and maintenance tasks are often undertaken. Natural regeneration is often very slow, even impossible in some affected areas, or at a higher altitude, if we do not prevent the public use in the degraded area, remove the cattle, etc. These plantations are always made with native species, and when it is possible, with specimens from local seeds to ensure the genetic purity. These works are very expensive to make maintaining public use, so it is one of the reasons why they do not thrive sometimes. It is essential that visitors follow the recommendations and do not depress planted or freshly restored areas, as the simple step of a small group can put an end to years of work.

Impact studies

camino embarradoOne of the premises of the National Park is, when possible, knowing before taking action. For this reason it is essential to quantify and investigate certain phenomena, one of the most obvious being the impact of public use. An ambitious project is starting up, focused on the understanding, the evaluation, and in as far as possible, the analysis of certain impacts evolution in identified areas. To do this, some equipment have been acquired, and it will allow to know the degree of impact according to a parameters range, such as the soil compaction and loss, plant species indicative of the deterioration, damage to the plants, disturbance to wildlife, etc.

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