The benefits of recreation
The benefits of recreation for nature conservation
objectives should also be considered. The fact that recreational
participants actively seek pleasant environments in which to
undertake their activities suggests that they are likely both
to have an awareness of, and also to have an appreciation for
the natural environment. Many regular participants are also
likely to have an intimate knowledge of the environment in which
they undertake their activities and may even be aware of changes
taking place over time. Such knowledge can make an important
contribution to understanding environmental change and the enthusiasm
of many participants can ensure that environmental initiatives
In addition, tourism and recreation are becoming
increasingly important economic sectors in many coastal areas.
It is often the increased income generated by these sectors
that enable improvements to be made in areas such as wastewater
treatment. This has obvious benefits for nature conservation
Recreational participants may also be successful
in campaigning collectively for improvements in the environments
in which they undertake their activities. For example, Surfers
Against Sewage has achieved a high profile in its campaign to
improve water quality for the benefit of those taking part in
immersion sports. Subsequent improvements in waste water treatment
by water companies has benefits for nature conservation.
Similarly, beach goers generally look for safe
and clean bathing environments in which to undertake their activity.
In recognising the need for some form of independent accreditation
for beach and bathing water quality, the Blue Flag scheme and
the Good Beach Guides have had a positive effect on environmental
quality in a large number of locations. The former has now expanded
For many recreational participants, their activities
provide their only contact with the natural environment. This
may act as a major catalyst for their wider understanding of
environmental issues and support for conservation objectives.
For some activities, such as wildlife watching, the quality
of the environment and the species it supports will be even
more intrinsically linked and such participants are likely to
be amongst the most proactive of all recreational participants.
These activities also attract a good deal of conservation-related
funding, largely because of the high participation rates but
also because of its attractive image for sponsors.