Aquatic ecosystems in inland Australia: tourism and recreational significance, ecological impacts and imperatives for management

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Hadwen, Wade L, Boon, Paul I and Arthington, Angela H (2012) Aquatic ecosystems in inland Australia: tourism and recreational significance, ecological impacts and imperatives for management. Marine and Freshwater Research, 63 (4). pp. 325-340. ISSN 1323-1650 (print), 1448-6059 (online)


The value of aquatic systems for biodiversity, agriculture, pastoralism and mining is widely recognised, whereas their significance for tourism and recreation is often poorly acknowledged. We surveyed protected-area managers, local governments and tour operators (river and general) to determine how aquatic systems were used in inland Australia for tourism and recreation and the perceived impacts of these uses. Inland waterbodies were reported by all respondent groups to be highly significant foci for visitors. Natural features were rated as more important to visitors than infrastructure by protected-area managers and river-tour operators, whereas all respondent groups identified water clarity, water quality and accessibility to water as important aspects of visitor appeal. Although >75% of respondents nominated visitors as being environmentally aware, visitors were reported to have a range of negative effects on the ecological condition of inland waterbodies, especially on water quality, and to also increase erosion and the loss of fringing vegetation. Managing the recreational use of inland waterbodies will become increasingly important as demand from all sectors intensifies and climate-change impacts become more severe. Management must take into account variations in perceptions by different stakeholder groups and the paradox of inappropriate visitor behaviour despite visitors’ apparent environmental awareness.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1071/MF11198
Official URL
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 0502 Environmental Science and Management
Historical > FOR Classification > 1506 Tourism
Historical > SEO Classification > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation
Current > Division/Research > College of Science and Engineering
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Institute for Sustainability and Innovation (ISI)
Keywords ResPubID25547, arid zone, ecological condition, local government, protected areas, visitor impacts, Australia, sustainable tourism, environmental awareness
Citations in Scopus 14 - View on Scopus
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