Impact on the Natural Environment

Year 10 Geography Unit 3: TOURISM

Lesson 2; Impact on the Natural Environment

Below is a “model” which you can use to study various places. After you have read each case study, you should fill out the details in the appropriate part of the diagram. Your collection of diagrams will be your notes for this topic.

nature of activity

eg trail bike riding


eg bushland areas on the Peninsula

control measures taken eg alternative places provided

environmental impact eg noise, erosion on trails

Task 1:

A blank copy of this diagram follows each case study. You should fill in the details after you have read about that particular place.

Task 2:

As you read through each of the case studies, mark in the location of each on a map of the world. Open the file world.bmp or click here. Use text box to label each place.


Kakadu is a wilderness area of 20,000 square kilometres in the northern Territory. It is mostly tropical eucalypt forest and wetlands. Dramatic waterfalls cascade over a 600 km long sandstone excarpment.

Over 250,000 visitors now visit Kakadu National park each year. This has been largely due to publicity from the film Crocodile Dundee, its World Heritage listing, and the building of an all weather bitumen road.

Only 15% of visitors are in tour groups. Most are independent travellers, who stay in camp sites and follow well defined routes. Although wildlife and scenic viewing are the main activities, adventurous bushwalking is discouraged by the harshness of the environment. As a result, it is still very much a “wilderness” area, with most of the people pressure confined to the towns, roads and parking areas.

Kakadu is one of the world’s oldest art galleries, with well over 5,000 rock art sites, aboriginal meeting places and refuges for over 60,000 years. Preservation of the sites has not been easy. Some have been promoted (such as Uberr and Nourlangie) in order to save others less well known. In some cases, sites have been removed from official Park maps, roads have been blocked off, car parks closed, and revegetation areas set up.

There is some question as to whether promoting the area as a “wilderness” is wise, and sustainable in the face of increasing tourist numbers. Careful planning will be needed.

Area: Kakadu, Australia

Impact: aboriginal art; they want to preserve the art. The environment is getting damaged

Activity: wildlife, scenic viewing, camping, tours,

Controls: sites have been removed from maps, roads blocked off, car parks closed and revegetation areas set up


The highest mountains in the world were, until recently, protected by their remoteness and ruggedness. Today, they offer spectacular mountaineering, climbing and walking. For many of the areas, especially the smaller mountain kingdoms of Bhutan and Nepal, tourism offers the only viable industry and a source of foreign money, with its demands for guides, accommodation and crafts.

The very ruggedness of the region means that any activity is concentrated in certain spots. Valley floors, lake shores, and mountain passes are the places where activity is greatest. Some highland trails in the Mount Everest area attract 35,000 visitors each year. The destruction of young trees for firewood and the creation of litter are causing great concern in such areas.

A dilemma is created: to open up areas to cope with the demand, or place restrictions on the number of tourists. Bhutan, for instance, has taken strong precautionary measures. Tourist numbers are limited, their movements are restricted, and they must spend a considerable amount each day. As a result, only 2,000 visit Bhutan each year. On the other hand, China has encouraged tourism in Tibet with minimal control, and much of the development is not harmonious or sustainable.

Activity: spectacular mountaineering, climbing, walking, accommodation, hiking, trekking,

Area: The Himalayas

Controls: open up areas to cope with the demand, place restrictions on number of tourists and restrict movement, time limit

Impact: Destruction of young trees for firewood, litter being dropped,


Antarctica is the last great untapped wilderness. Only one in every 5 million people has ever visited it , and the level of existing tourism is very low.

Charter flights by Qantas and AirNZ took 10,000 tourists on 12 hour, non-stop flights in the late 70’s. They were abruptly halted, however,