UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Ecology as a factor in planning for outdoor recreation Bugslag, Claude Roberts


The attitude toward the problem of resource utilization at any level is tied philosophically to the man and nature relationship which has developed over a long period of time. Two recurring elements within this theme are, first, the idea that man conquers nature and, second, the common concept of man as something apart, or above, or outside of the rest of the natural world. In North America these ideas, carried to extremes, resulted in a plundering or rape of natural resources. The conservation movement developed as a reaction against such wanton destruction. Among those propounding the conservation ethic were also advocates of national parks and nature reserves. The park movement received its initial impetus from within the city itself. Its supporters felt that large green spaces should be maintained for the benefit of the urban dwellers living in the burgeoning industrial cities. The present rapidly expanding demand for outdoor recreation had its beginnings in such a way less than one hundred years ago. Four main factors, all presently increasing are contributing to this demand. They are population, mobility, leisure time, and disposable income. While it is not the only aspect of mobility, the automobile has done much to expand the radius of travel of the prospective recreationist. Since the natural environment is the locale in which the outdoor recreation experience is satisfied it is logical to consider what effect the increased demand is having on it. It appears that the quality of the recreational experience is to large degree dependent on the quality of the environment in which it is fulfilled. A high quality site may deteriorate if too many people frequent it at the same time or over a particular period of time. Ecology is the branch of biological science that is concerned with the relationships of all living things to each other and with the non-living elements of the environment. The understanding of these relationships is a necessary precondition to development of any kind. In the narrower context of this study, the proposed hypothesis is that ecology is a basic factor to be considered in planning for outdoor recreation. By outlining some principles and concepts of ecology and relating these specifically to a particular ecosystem; a wetland, the concept of an ecological point of view as a basis for planning has been explained. Supporting evidence, in the form of actual examples, has been drawn upon from a wide range of developments. The work of three men, Angus Hills, Philip Lewis, and Ian McHarg is also analyzed in respect to their proposed solutions to the problems of resource analysis from an ecologically based approach, William J. Hart has also used this approach in park planning and Artur Glikson utilizes biological information as an intrinsic element of his philosophy of regional planning. One of the first attempts in this field, reviewed here, is that of E. H. Graham who proposed a natural basis for land use. The hypothesis would largely seem to be substantiated by the evidence presented. Ecological information should certainly be part of the input in the planning process. However, what is clear is that in the past and to a large extent even today, this has not been the case. Most of the examples used to Illustrate particular points are negative, that is, cases of ecological information being ignored with the result that a resource was either degraded or destroyed. Few examples have been found to support the positive position. This study was limited to a review of existing literature. The topic, however, warrants further investigation by either experimental or survey methods or in the review of the historical record of a particular case from the ecological point of view.

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