Choosing well when providing infrastructure

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Johnston, S, Scherrer, P & Pickering, CM 2001, 'Choosing well when providing infrastructure', in R Buckley et al, Abstracts: Fenner Conference: nature tourism and the environment: Australian Academy of Sciences, Canberra, ACT, 3-6 September , CRC for Sustainable Tourism, Gold Coast, Qld. ISBN: 876685697

Presentation available on Open Access

Peer Reviewed



The popularity of nature tourism destinations can threaten the environment the attraction is based on. To limit detrimental effects of increasing visitor numbers, management tools such as the hardening of facilities are commonly used. However, decisions about the type of hardening are often based on the short-term financial cost of construction. To develop sustainable tourism facilities in natural areas, a long-term view needs to be adopted with increased weight placed on environmental and social issues. The importance of such an approach is demonstrated using the walking track network of the Kosciuszko alpine area as a case study. Increasing visitor numbers to the alpine area of Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales, are placing growing pressure on its walking tracks. Much of the established walking track network evolved from old bridle tracks and service roads. Over the years, many different materials and techniques have been used in efforts to harden or maintain degraded tracks or to establish new tracks to deal with the increasing demands. This has resulted in an array of track types ranging from informal tracks and hardened ground tracks to raised walkways. Comparisons of some environmental, social and financial costs and benefits for different tracks highlight that a holistic long-term planning approach is required. The introduction of foreign materials associated with hardening efforts brings with it the risk of creating long-term liabilities such as weed problems. These need to be managed, creating additional financial costs that should be considered in the initial decision making process. The holistic approach would lead to a more beneficial choice of track than current practices. The development of a walking track strategy that incorporates these aspects and provides a scientific base for management decisions is recommended.