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CHAPTER ELEVEN
 
RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN TOURISM, CONSERVATION AND THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT.


"Development is not the antithesis of conservation, they are complementary".[1]

The factors which create a "sense of place" on the Sussex Downs have been considered in detail. The geology and the climate, together with the history of man's intrusion into the landscape have resulted in a topography and bio-diversity that sets the Downland apart.[2]  The distinctiveness in turn precipitates a desire on the part of the general public to visit and experience the Downs. It also gives rise to a desire to conserve and protect this special place against change which would destroy its qualities. It can be seen therefore that tourism, conservation and the natural environment are inextricably linked in an equation where the three factors each need to retain a balance in order to ensure sustainability of the others. This chapter investigates this tripartite balance in the context of the circumstances and proposals relating to the Downland as discussed in earlier chapters.

The recognition of the Downland as a special place and the closely related wish to conserve the qualities of the Downland is not new. In Chapter 2, the debate regarding whether the South Downs should be designated a National Park, as proposed by Hobhouse in 1947 and deliberated on extensively thereafter, has been considered.[3] Conservation was already high on the agenda well before World War II however. Sheail identifies the South Downs Preservation Bill, promoted by the East Sussex County Council in 1934 and circumstances surrounding regional planning during that era, as instrumental in determining the future of the Downs. The Bill was essentially a move to bring about a coordinated approach to planning and conservation on the Downs on a regional basis. The promotion followed the acquisition by Brighton of land on the Downland.[4] One use for the acquired land was to be a Motor-Racing Track which was seen as damaging to the qualities of the Downland by many. In addition the sprawl of numerous new residential developments was causing concern, particularly the erection of 650 houses on the cliff top at Peacehaven. Although the Bill failed, the debate gave rise to important new initiatives in regional planning and the Sussex Downs became a testing ground for early development zoning.[5]

The debate on the 1934 Bill also crystalised people's notions of the nature and character of conservation appropriate to the Downs. Lord Redesdale, during the debate of 1935, identified two forms of preservation. A small minority wanted to sterilise the Downs for all time whereas a rather larger majority wanted to turn the Downs into a recreation and entertainment centre.[6] The Select Committee for Opposed Bills, chaired by Lord Redesdale, recommended that the Bill should not proceed. In seeking a middle course, Redesdale was effectively permitting the Motor-Racing Track, in order that holiday makers could enjoy every kind of relaxation and amusement during the annual break from work. The race track was never built due to lack of funding. However the spectrum of views on what constitutes conservation, reflected in the polarised notions set out by Redesdale, prevails to this day.

Whilst it is not the purpose of this thesis to discuss the history of the reconciliation of views as to what constitutes appropriate conservation, it is important to appreciate the prevailing paradigm as it relates to the Sussex Downs. It is this paradigm which in turn establishes a framework for the development of visitor recreation on the Downland as well as influencing other uses for the surface area.

The foundation for modern policy on the conservation of the Sussex Downs was laid down in the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. This Act paved the way for the Sussex Downs to become part of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with responsibility vested in the Countryside Commission. Designation eventually came about in 1966.[7] Following over 40 years of experience and debate the prevailing views are summed up in the Countryside Commission's Policy Statement for AONBs of 1990, as endorsed by the Secretary of State for the Environment to Parliament in January 1991:-

" The primary purpose..... is to conserve and enhance natural beauty. .....account should be taken of the needs of agriculture, forestry, other rural industries and of the economic and social needs of the local communities..... ....the demand for recreation should be met as far as this is consistent with the conservation of natural beauty and the needs of agriculture, forestry and other uses." [8]

The strength of this policy statement as compared with the equivalent statement for National Parks for example is discussed in Chapter 14, which considers the most appropriate protection designation for the Downland. Through the so far unique policy and management structure of the Sussex Downs Conservation Board, the Countryside Commission's policy has been interpreted and extended to apply to the Sussex Downland. This is encapsulated in the Sussex Downs Conservation Board's objectives as follows:-

" To protect, conserve and enhance the natural beauty and amenity of the Sussex Downs AONB, including its physical, ecological and cultural landscape. To promote the quiet informal enjoyment of the Sussex Downs AONB by the general public but only as far as is consistent with the first objective. Generally to promote sustainable forms of economic and social development especially working with farmers and land owners to encourage land management which supports the two objectives above." [9]

Having established the qualities and nature of the Downland environment in Chapter One and the prevailing paradigm relating to conservation above, the third component of the tripartite balance - visitors and tourism and how they impinge on the other two components of the equation, is now considered. The magnitude of the impact can be gauged from the demand estimates for Downland recreation.

On a typical summer Sunday in 1984, the Countryside Commission estimated that 18 million people in England and Wales participated in countryside recreation.[10] In Chapter 6 it is estimated that there are 32.5 million recreational visits to the Downland in a year, based on the data from the Visitor Survey[11] and Willis et al.[12] It has also been previously noted that there is a steady increase in background demand for "green" leisure pursuits.[13] This is fuelled by steadily increasing personal mobility, particularly the motor car and increased leisure time. The Visitor Survey concluded that 84 percent of all visitors travelled by car to the Downland. The absence of previous estimates of Downland visitor impacts renders it difficult to gauge growth rates. In addition the ETB acknowledge that tourism is subject to short-term fluctuations and this makes precise forecasting impossible other than that demand for countryside recreation will increase.[14]

Such considerations are already being debated within enlightened tourism agencies associated with the Downland. Arun District Council for example, is actively promoting Downland tourism as a component of the local marketing plan.[15] Under the circumstances it appears reasonable to conclude that by the year 2,000, the Downland will be accommodating 40 million visits or more in a year.

It is argued by some, that tourism numbers, of the magnitude already present on the South Downs, have in the past exploited the resource, resulting in environmental degradation, without making a contribution to conservation. In a detailed review of tourism in National Parks, the report of the Federation of Nature and National Parks of Europe, (1993), expressed the view that conservation in protected areas has not benefitted by tourism or recreation.[16] This view ignores the notion that without recreation much of the community and financial support for conservation would diminish. In the Malvern Hills case study, one of the motivations for conservation of the Hills in the 19th century was the desire to provide for recreation.

The social impact, in the form of crowding and congestion, of high visitor numbers, may be apparent over limited periods but the supposition that the natural environment undergoes degradation is not sustainable in many instances. In the Dartmoor case study, the illustrations of Widecombe and Hay Tor indicate that high visitor numbers can be sustained. Widecombe now hosts over a quarter of a million visitors per annum with a permanent population of only 60. Similar considerations apply to the Malvern Hills. In spite of this the natural and built environment has changed remarkably little in 70 years.

But do visitors to either Hay Tor, Widecombe or The Malverns make a direct contribution to the care and maintenance of the environment? Such locations offer free facilities with charges only for further goods and services. The majority of visitors to Widecombe will incur secondary expenditure on parking, teas etc. On Hay Tor the opportunities for secondary expenditure on site are minimal but secondary expenditure will be incurred elsewhere in the form of Bed and Breakfast, maps etc. In The Malverns it is the town of Great Malvern which provides the support facilities.

Why therefore protect locations such as Hay Tor? Without conserved locations such as Hay Tor, Dartmoor would be significantly less attractive for recreation. As a result recreational use would decline. Recreation thus provides one raison d'etre for conservation of the environment. Not only that but as a result of secondary expenditure tourism also provides an indirect financial generator for the funding of conservation. What is apparent is that the critical balance between recreation, the environment and conservation is paramount in sustaining all three factors. As a result of inappropriate development, financial starvation and absence of integrated tourism and environmental strategies, the balance has been jeopardised extensively to date on parts of the Sussex Downs. How might this tripartite balance be synthesised to advantage?

ZONING  The concept of zoning is not new and has already been discussed under the development of a Sussex Area Tourism Initiative.[17] The SATI proposals advocate a separation of the major commercial infrastructure of tourism from the product itself, that is the Sussex Downs, thereby establishing tourism zones. If the Downs is to be secured with all its diversity it becomes necessary to environmentally zone within the core study region also. This in turn provides for the introduction of visitor management techniques which recognise the fragility and role of distinct localities within the core study area.
 
A recreational zoning policy which divides the Heritage Coast into Intensive, Intermediate and Remote zones has been established for some time and has proved successful in protecting the most vulnerable areas.[18] The difficulty in establishing Intensive zones is that this focuses the development of recreational infrastructure on specific sites thereby creating "honey pots" which in turn lead to environmental degradation. Further development of the zoning technique may well enable such a shortcoming to be ameliorated.

Additional support for environmental zoning enjoys support from both tactical management and theoretical sources. Zoning as a technique is being developed successfully within the Dartmoor National Park. Shipp, in the report of the Federation of Nature and National Parks of Europe (FNNPE), proposes five categories of zoning linked to a protected area.[19] Glyptis similarly recognises the need for five distinct zones, basing her judgement on the experiences of the Norfolk Broads and more recently The Peak District.[20]  Although there are minor variations in the definitions between Glyptis and Shipp the two propositions can be consolidated and applied to the Downs.

Type 1, Sanctuary zones where access is limited to research and essential management only. Fragile landscapes and ecosystems would fall into this category. Efforts would be made to steer the public away from such areas and there would be no publicity as to their qualities. Rare habitat SSSIs and important nature reserves would come under this category on the Downland. From an ecological viewpoint, the setting aside of habitats and sensitive reserves in this manner has attractions. However, elsewhere it has been recognised that it is not sufficient to have a few meadows interspersed through an agri-industry landscape. Species become isolated in islands, a situation which increases extinction possibilities as well as reducing the ability to recolonise. In the United States, one role of preserved areas is recognised as the maintenance of entire ecosystems as a viable entity over extended areas rather than a series of fragmented pockets.[21] This is not to suggest that zoning is orientated to preserving the present status quo. On the Downland a process of extending important ecological areas should be developed alongside zoning. In this manner zoning becomes a dynamic tool and not just a landscape preservation measure.

Type 2, Quiet/remote zones where numbers are limited and, in the case of any congregating of visitors, ranger supervision applies. Public access facilities are strictly limited with an absence of way marking or encouragement to explore. The heritage coast foreshore below the cliffs of Beachy Head would be such an area.

Type 3, Compatible tourism zones where recreation and tourism is compatible with the general nature of the environment. On the Downland this may well apply to chalk grasslands and commons with freedom to roam. Some simple infrastructure such as informal parking could be provided but little else. Hay Tor, illustrated in the Dartmoor case study, is an example of how treatment in this manner over many years has resulted in the scenic quality of the location remaining unchanged. This zoning could well apply to the majority of the core study area and thereby overcomes the risk previously identified on the Heritage Coast, where Intensive zones focus recreational infrastructure in specific spots.

Type 4, Sustainable development zones apply to specific locations where limited development can take place in order to encourage tourism and act as a node of low level economic benefits. Emphasis would be on renovated buildings, cottage style economic activity with provision for vehicles and possibly refreshments. These areas would act as local foci of tourism activity. On the Downland this could well apply to Downland villages, particularly if the cultural heritage could be capitalised on to give a distinct village appeal as with the smuggling at East Dean. Alfriston has long existed as a popular tourism venue but arguably suffers from the lack of tourism management necessary with such venues. This problem is considered further in Chapter 12. Widecombe, illustrated in the Dartmoor case study, is an example of a type 4 location.

Type 5, External development zones would exist and Shipp proposes that these be outside the protected area. Although these would still not accommodate the major commercial infrastructure they would however have a degree of sympathetic tourism development. On the Downs such a zone would provide a buffer between the protected area and the centres for major commercial development. The area to the north of the core study area and included as part of the peripheral study area could well be treated in this manner. Tourism accommodation such as camping and caravanning, as well as themed venues, could be located in this zone, although any development would necessarily have to be considered in the context of visibility and access to and from the Downland itself. Such areas could also usefully accommodate recreational activity unsuited to the Downland, like golf courses. To the immediate south of the Downland, Sussex is fortunate in having to hand the already well developed tourism resorts. These provide the location for the major tourism commercial infrastructure.

The utilisation of zoning as a management tool has developed considerably in North American National Parks. Not only does zoning segregate different types of landscape, it also imposes restrictions on the visitor. Such restrictions vary with circumstance but include published maps showing forbidden zones, areas for limited access and hunting, and the main resort areas with attendant facilities.[22] In some areas entrance fees and entrance permits are required, with details of time in and out being logged as a safety requirement as well as an impact control measure. Whilst such procedures may be inappropriate for the Downland, certain types of activity, such as horse riding, although sympathetic to the SDCB objectives, may well require controlling in order to reduce damage to footpaths and bridleways. This is discussed further under landscape integration in Chapter 15.

Zoning as a policy and management tool is potentially a strong aid to achieving the objectives as set out by the SDCB. Its particular strength is that it enables the deployment of tactical measures on a calculated basis. The concept of zoning the core study area also considerably eases the problems of determining what is and what is not an appropriate development in a given locality by providing a framework for debate. Developers and planners each have a clear indication of what is acceptable, arising from an appreciation of how a development jeopardises or conforms to the criteria of a particular zone. This also in turn enables a positive, proactive stance to be taken regarding the attracting of capital for tourism development to an appropriate zone. A number of current controversial Downland development issues are indicative of the present difficulties in reconciling tourism, conservation and the environment. These are considered in the context of zoning particularly to illustrate how difficult decisions may be assisted in resolution by more deterministic zoning policies.

The Beachy Head Hotel was a controversial redevelopment proposal in 1993. It has previously been noted that the site was purchased in 1990 by Eastbourne Borough Council.[23] The location is on the cliff top at Beachy Head, the well known beauty and visitor spot. The area comprises open Downland with few buildings except the existing hotel which has been the subject of redevelopment. Plans for the Hardway visitor centre and hotel scheme were dropped in April 1993 following an energetic battle by campaigners and financial difficulties of the developer. A compromise plan emerged to convert the premises to a Downland themed restaurant with a visitor centre. In 1994, work commenced on refurbishing the existing buildings and providing a countryside interpretation centre. The premises opened in the Autumn.
 
The ongoing controversy over the future of the site has raged since 1990. The difficulty is that the political framework for decision making has not been contained by an inalienable environmental policy framework, particularly within the Eastbourne local plan.[24] As a result the discretion of the decision making process has been unencumbered by adequate predetermined limitations in the past. The outcome is development that does not fit comfortably into the obvious zoning specification.

The two extremes of the spectrum of opinion are, on one hand that the site should be levelled and returned to wilderness or grassland and on the other hand, the site could be used for a popular large scale development, enabling Eastbourne to recoup its investment and adding impetus to the local economy. To take a compromise "middle of the road" position endangers the effectiveness of the project as well as avoiding due consideration of the issues at stake. Zoning, if it is to work, offers a structured conclusion with no room for "please everyone a little but nobody a lot" outcomes.

If the Beachy Head cliff top is seen as a type 1,2 or 3 zone then the future of the site is obvious. The hotel should be removed and the area restored to grassland. If however the location is a 4 zone then some low level development may be appropriate. The location is not likely to ever be considered as a 5 zone.

The realistic designation of Beachy Head is either a type 3 or 4 zone. In either case a hotel or substantial commercial complex is inappropriate and this should jeopardise any intentions based on developing the earlier facilities.

Failure to follow the disciplines of such zoning presents a number of threats.

1) The "enhancement" by development of the tourist product will result in an increase in utilisation. This will not be sympathetic to the nature of the locality as reflected in the zoning determination.

2) Any increase in visitor numbers to the locality resulting from improvement of the facilities will precipitate a corresponding increase in the need for supportive infrastructure, whether it be improved roads or childrens play areas.

3) Any low level development along the lines proposed for a type 4 zone will necessarily have to accommodate the existing building and facilities. As these are not sympathetic to the nature of the Downland a major refurbishment, comparable to a complete rebuild will be inevitable. As the building will be effectively demolished it may as well be located in a more appropriate 5 zone or peripheral area locality, where such developments are actively sought as part of a proactive tourism and economic development policy.

In view of the above arguments it would suggest that the Beachy Head Hotel is an example of inappropriate development. This view is endorsed by experiencing the new restaurant facilities. The crowds that now congregate to dine on Beachy Head could enjoy a comparable experience in many other locations; it is not necessary to use a prime and special location for what is essentially an indoors experience devoid of natural Downland stimuli.

Golf Courses are increasing in popularity as an alternative commercial use for the landscape and any open tract of countryside provides a suitable target for the developers intentions. Foxbridge golf course, a new development situated on the "unspoiled" Weald at Plaistow utilises 25 ha of redundant farmland for a 9 hole course. The facilities provide for 350 club members.[25] Would such facilities be appropriate for the Downland?

Without the benefit of defined zones, the debate inevitably ranges across general planning issues, visual impact, access, etc. Within the ESCC and WSCC Structure Plans there is no presumption against golf courses and this suggests that they are generally considered appropriate for the Downland. As a result Lewes Golf Club recently won its battle to build a new UK pounds 500,000 clubhouse on the Downs above the Town.[26]

Given the tight imposition of a zoning policy relating to the Downland, the debate as to whether the Golf Course complied with conservation principals may well have had a different outcome. The establishment of organised sporting facility infrastructure and buildings on the Downland would have been inappropriate and the development of the club house would have to be located elsewhere. Had the course itself been new, the changing of the surface features would also have offended the principals of all but the 5 zone policy thus suggesting that the entire facility would be better located outside the protected area where it should be welcomed as a valuable investment in the local economy.

Such an enlightened approach to rural development through an environmental zoning policy would have considerably eased the passage of the Spathams Lane golf club application, also in the Lewes District. The site is off the Downland, north of Ditchling, visible at some distance from the Downs and on the outskirts of the village. The original application for an 18 hole course dates back to 1989 and after refusal was allowed on appeal.[27] The grounds for refusal were that it detracted from the setting of a Grade 2 farm house, was a hazard for footpaths, did not use existing buildings, was outside the structure plan guidelines and had a negative environmental effect. Subsequent amendments to the proposals overcame many of the planning problems. Vociferous objections from the parish and the continual amendments resulted in a complex and costly inquiry with most participants confused as to the status of the proposals.[28]

The golf course is going ahead with further building amendments still under consideration by Lewes Planning Dept. If the proposal had been considered in the light of a clear zoning policy, this legitimate reuse for redundant farmland would perhaps have been more enthusiastically received. It is necessary to find alternative green uses for farmland which represents a large capital investment by the farmer, an issue discussed in Chapter 14. Visually, golf courses are potentially as, if not more, attractive than many traditional Wealden farm landscapes. The siting does not therefore detract from the prime special landscape of the Downland, and the quality of rural life will be enhanced through jobs and improved leisure facilities.

Golf courses, although complying with the objectives of quiet recreation and economic development, nevertheless can be seen as inappropriate in the context of a zoning policy for the majority of the Downland but potentially can make an important contribution to the reuse of redundant farmland near the Downs.

Footpaths are another interesting development which is causing concern with conservationists. The Countryside Commission seeks to establish long distance routes, heralded as the pedestrian motorways, throughout England as part of its access to the countryside policies. The Hadrians Wall walk has been in the planning process for 15 years and will provide access to one of the most significant archaeological complexes in the world. The result will be an 80 mile track from Newcastle to Bowness. Opposition to the walk comes from Newcastle University where Professor Fowler points out that the walk will traverse a wide range of archaeological remains associated with the wall, never designed to be pedestrianised. Stonehenge is cited as a similar predicament where the public is now excluded. Faced with controversy the CPRE has advised on the formal review of the affair with an Environmental Impact Assessment.[29]

The SDCB has reaffirmed its commitment to the improvement of such footpaths as the South Downs Way which provides a continuous east-west pedestrian and cyclist path as well as a bridleway across the Sussex Downland. In Chapter 3 it is recorded that 934 miles of public rights of way exist on the Downland [30] and as such they provide an important line of communication between sites for the visitor.

Footpath development and promotion causes more problems than the despoliation of archaeological remains. Erosion can be substantially exacerbated as the surface cover is abraded away. Water quickly causes gully erosion which in turn destroys the land form. The extent of damage depends on usage which can be considerable; the Peak District National Park Authority cite their Three Peaks 24 mile circuit which has to accommodate 60,000 walkers in a year, twice that number of feet! [31]

In determining the strategic planning of footpaths the establishment of a zoning policy is key. In fact footpaths are only part of a network of visitor routes which includes roads, bridleways, tracks etc. Visitor management by route planning is an essential part of the channelling of visitors to appropriate sites or zones and away from those with great fragility. How this might be applied to the Sussex Downs is considered in detail in Chapter 15 which looks at transport and distribution of people in an integrated landscape. The degree to which it is appropriate to direct visitors to particular sites or zones needs to take account of a particular resource carrying capacity. This is essential not only for the maintenance of the resource itself but also for the recreational experience of the visitor.

Carrying capacity is generally considered as the threshold of visitors beyond which degradation takes place. O'Reilly notes that as a planning and management tool its use is limited, primarily because of the difficulties in quantifying capacities.[32] O'Reilly also notes that two schools of thought exist on the nature and interpretation of tourism or visitor capacity. The first views capacity as the ability of a venue to absorb visitors before the host suffers adverse effects. The second approach is a self regulating mechanism; there will come a point when visitor numbers are such that the propensity to use the venue is offset by the desire to avoid the site as a result of the impact existing visitors have made. Pursuit of the second approach risks site degradation and detrimental user profile change before the mechanism self adjusts. Glyptis identifies several studies which have investigated this effect.[33]

Attempts have been made to establish precise formulae for calculating carrying capacity as identified by Pearce.[34] The complexities are such that any attempt to discipline the assessment of carrying capacity within predetermined measurable parameters has resulted in generalisations having to be introduced to make the proposal at all workable. A more detailed scrutiny of what is involved in calculating carrying capacities indicates why this is so.

Gunn[35] summarises the three generally accepted components of the determination of carrying capacities as:

1) The physical/environmental result of overuse. In the case of the Downland, this would apply to footpath erosion, wild life disturbance etc.

2) The level at which the impact of visitor numbers becomes unacceptable socially. In the case of the Downland this would apply to the loss of the solitude as a quality of the Downs or to the level of acceptable crime or vandalism.

3) The numbers of visitors which the infrastructure can accommodate. On the Downland this would apply to the number of cars that can be parked in a given area or the ability of a visitor centre to process visitors.

The determination of precise numbers requires judgements to be made. This raises the question of who makes such judgements, visitors, planners or residents?

Carrying capacity is not an exact science; there are further aspects which are important from the practical viewpoint but which undermine theoretical studies. These can relate to the effect of the weather. Particularly relevant to outdoor sites such as the Downland is the problem that weather has on varying the site capacity. Inclement weather often substantially reduces the ability of sites to accommodate visitors, giving rise to increased surface erosion and an inclination to remain in a vehicle rather than walk to a destination. In addition, inclement weather may result in a temporary shift of visitors to weather insensitive sites, thereby creating overload conditions.

A further variable is seasonality linked with visitor demography. Factors such as childrens' holidays and crisp January sunshine on the New Year Bank Holiday mean that the profile of visitors changes considerably over short periods of time. Such changes are difficult often to predict as they depend on such factors as alternative attractions elsewhere as well as the general unpredictability of human behaviour. A visitor centre full of noisy children may not be a welcome sight to elderly walkers in August, whereas the same visitor centre full of ramblers in January may be an enjoyable prospect.

It can be seen therefore that a large number of variables exist from which carrying capacity is estimated. In addition it becomes apparent that carrying capacity is not only site specific but also requires a high degree of judgement. Rather like production line planning, the bottleneck of a site, with management attention, can be upgraded to enhance the total throughput. Such techniques are best applied only where the variables are reduced to manageable numbers, thereby enabling capacity to be quantified with reliability, such as in a theme park where precise measuring can apply. To attempt to calculate the carrying capacity of the Sussex Downs for example would result in a meaningless figure. In contrast, estimates of reasonable carrying capacities of discrete areas such as 1 and 2 zone locations are essential in pursuing the policies relating to such zoning.

An appreciation of the component parts of determining carrying capacity enables a number of management tools to be developed to control or manipulate visitor numbers and impact. Such management tools also provide in certain instances a direct financial contribution towards environmental management. These tools, as relevant to the Downland, can be grouped into several categories which are now considered.

Infrastructure restrictions This measure applies to a variety of constraints on visitor numbers which come about due to deliberate lack of infrastructure. In the Dartmoor case study it has been noted that car parking in sensitive areas is carefully managed. What appears to be an informal off-road parking opportunity is one of a specific number of spots which when filled prevent further parking, resulting in the motorist moving on rather than stopping. With 84 percent of all Downland visitors travelling by car it is apparent that the motor vehicle has become a necessity in modern lifestyles.[36] Recognition of this fact enables appropriate management strategies to be adopted based on vehicular manipulation, rather than the outmoded approach of vehicle prevention by either forcing people on to expensive and inconvenient public transport or effectively denying them access by prohibition. Access can also be managed by the development of footpath networks appropriate to where the visitors are wanted, an integrated landscape consideration which will be developed later. Other infrastructure limitations can include accommodation, refreshment facilities, signposting, restricted experience by fencing etc.

The converse of this situation is the appreciation by management that if measures improve access or on-site facilities, numbers will increase, perhaps beyond the reasonable carrying capacities of locations, if foresight is not used. The degree to which such techniques can be applied to the Downland is limited. This is due to the prerequisite to minimise the infrastructure of tourism in order to maintain the essential qualities of the Downs, whether it be the absence of brown and white tourist road signs or refreshment and toilet facilities. For example, "improvements" recently completed at Beachy Head,[37] by providing an enhanced visitor centre including interpretive display, refreshments, accommodation and educational facilities will, as a result substantially increase tourism numbers and impact.

Load spreading This technique is used to ameliorate the effects of peak time loading on tourism and visitor resources. Visitor honey pots are notorious for overcrowding at specific times. Spreading the visitor load has obvious environmental and commercial advantages. This can be achieved by such marketing techniques as providing incentives for off peak access, a technique developed for public transport in the past. Special events may be used to attract visitors at off-peak times. Entry by ticket on an allocated, timed basis is used in North American National Parks.[38] Licences for activities such as fishing are well established techniques for limiting availability. The implications for licensing certain activities, particularly high impact minority interests such as hang gliding, have merits.

The use of load spreading as a management tool is viewed with suspicion in some of the academic literature however. Whilst it may be argued that load spreading is taking place to meet environmental or conservation objectives, the tourism industry may well see the move as a general measure to increase overall capacity and therefore adjust throughput accordingly. This view is summed up by Wheeller who sees tourism as a manipulative industry intent on environmental and social exploitation but disguising these activities under a mask of problem solving.[39] The economic benefits of exploiting the extra capacity derived from load spreading are potentially substantial in many instances but the resulting increase in overall visitor numbers may well jeopardise the environmental objectives. Commercial and environmental aims are potentially in accord but need clever orchestration.

Product restriction Table 7:2 identifies nine principal consumer groups using the Downland based on the Visitor Survey.[40] These groups, although displaying individual characteristics of behaviour, go to make up the typical Downland visitor and in a way could be described as the "bread and butter" of Downland consumers. These are the people who are the beneficiaries of the Conservation Board's objectives outlined earlier in this chapter. In addition to the nine principal groups it is possible to identify minor user groups from the Visitor Survey. These include horse riders, sports spectators, kite flyers, informal games participants, on and off road cyclists, organised eventers, artists, activity sports people, anglers and coach excursionists. Technological advances are also producing new potential user groups such as four wheel drive vehicle addicts, treasure hunters, motorised three wheelers, etc. Many of these minor "techno-users" are particularly damaging to the environment.

The clear identification of Downland user groups provides a valuable opportunity for target group planning. If visits to the Downland could increase to 40 millions by AD 2000 as proposed earlier, what consumer groups will make up this total and will this profile of visitors come about by default? A more acceptable position is the planned development of selected visitor groups in order to achieve a targeted number of visits. This can be done through a process of product denial and target marketing. If the short walkers, taking into account all the environmental, social and economic factors are deemed to be a valued Downland consumer group, then the Downland can be specifically geared to their needs, ie car parks and short walks to go on, and promoted accordingly. Vice versa, if treasure hunters are seen as threatening to the Downland environment and archaeology, measures can be taken to deny them access to the product. For example, a licensing system at key visitor facilities could deter and reduce the ill effects of treasure hunting by metal detectors.

The focus of such a management process is the forward planning of visitor numbers and type. This is then implemented by the deployment of resources to achieve such forecasts linked with a monitoring capability.

Interpretation and education The role of interpretation and education as a potential management tool has long been recognised by the marketeer who seeks to identify and publicise product attributes. An essential part of the marketeers task in many markets is educating the consumer on how to use the product. Using the same techniques as the marketeer enables the resource provider to convey two detailed messages. The first is what makes the Downland a special place and the second is how to use the Downland in order to conserve the attributes.

Such interpretation and education can take many forms. The feeling that one is entering a different locality is essential in ensuring that the visitor is aware that different behaviour is appropriate. Signs on roads, perhaps with special restrictions, alert the visitor that something is different. Printed material enhances the understanding of the region and emphasises the special nature of the place. Guided tours and walks identify aspects of interest. The treatment of visitor facilities is different from elsewhere, in the case of the Downland car parks are less formal, economic activity is at a cottage industry level, the normal clutter and trivia of mass tourism is not apparent in the same way as it is expected on Brighton Beach. The visual landscape is different and this can be enhanced with distinct building styles as is the case of much of the Downland. The reverse also applies however, the adoption of styles common throughout England dilutes the message of specialness. Trunk road lighting and signing, modern style buildings, barbed wire fences, all illustrate to the visitor that the Downland is no different from anywhere else. As a result attitudes and behaviour will reflect those of elsewhere.

Interpretation and education necessarily start within the ranks of the provider and then are extended to the visitor.

The power of interpretation and education policies should not be underestimated. Millar sees such techniques as providing impetus not only to the conservation and understanding of the natural environment; cultural heritage is explored, appreciated, researched and conserved also.[41]

As a result of these considerations, visitor centres abound with mixed success. The new Dartmoor Visitor Centre at Princetown, featuring all the latest techniques in audio visual communication and education, comes under criticism on a number of counts.[42] It is seen as austere and unwelcoming by the everyday visitor, perhaps reflecting the middle class value systems operating amongst those who manage the centre. Also the information that it conveys would perhaps be better absorbed before the visitor comes to Dartmoor, the darkened rooms are not welcoming when there is bright sunshine outside. Whilst the Princetown Centre also has much to commend it, the lesson is that the message must be projected and honed to suit the target audience, as any marketeer will know.

Direct Charging Both commercial tourism operators and the general public see areas like the Downland as a free resource available for all. Such views are linked with common perceptions of the countryside and who it belongs to. The belief that all have a stake in the countryside is illustrated by the weight of public opinion regarding change, as individuals and groups set out to defend what they perceive as their rightful interest. What has been shown in the earlier chapters of this thesis however is that maintenance of the countryside has a cost. Should therefore the cost be reflected in charges to the direct user?

The Society of Sussex Downsmen maintains 20 ha of land on Heyshott Down.[43] The importance of this reserve is regularly endorsed.[44] The cost to the Society of maintaining this reserve however is rapidly exceeding 15,000 per annum and is unsustainable.[45] A series of paths are indicated on the Reserve Display Board, thus enabling individuals to enjoy the facilities. The reserve costs are funded by legacies and donations to the Society but what if visitors to the reserve were charged for admission in a manner that ensured management costs were covered? Would such a move be acceptable or would visitor numbers drop alarmingly? Would the outcome defeat the purpose of the reserve, even if charging for entry could be engineered?

In certain country pursuits, charging is an established practice. Licences for activities such as fishing are the norm for not only limiting availability but also by charging, ensuring a direct contribution to management and conservation costs. Such schemes could be extended to horse riding and bikes. There is potential for direct charging of activities or the use of facilities, although to charge for access to areas like Heyshott Down would doubtless alienate those who perceive access to the countryside as a right.

Where commercial tourism operators are involved the provision of permits for coaches etc. provides a means of charging the user. Another alternative is the use of permits for discriminatory access. For example residents of Malvern have a free permit to use the charged facilities on the Hills, mainly car parks, in recognition of the contribution made through the Council Tax towards the work of the Conservators.

Direct charging does in certain instances therefore enable the management of the environment and conservation to be directly assisted financially. Through price level adjustment, resource utilisation can also be restricted. The danger in this approach is that the financial return becomes the dominant factor over and above conservation objectives. If this were to happen the environmental ideals may be jeopardised in favour of short term visitor throughput and cash return. Tourism can not be sustained if the environmental resource degrades.[46] Today many areas of the Downland no longer hold any interest for the visitor following the encroachment of housing and other environmentally damaging applications of the surface area.

Chapter 13 proposes alternative ways of looking at the economics of the Downland other than as a facility that needs to be directly charged for.

Landscape monitoring and assessment & Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies. The notion that tourism, conservation and the environment are inextricably linked in a tripartite balance, the theme for this chapter, underlines that each is dependant on the others. The environment is sustained through conservation, visitors in one form or another become the raison d'etre for conserving the environment and without the environmental quality there are no visitors. This is not a closed system, species diversity and ecosystem sustainability are other factors promoting conservation. Nevertheless on the Downland the needs for recreation as set out in the SDCB objectives ensures that the tripartite balance is of paramount importance. This then leads to the problems of forecasting and subsequently monitoring the effects of tourism on environmental change and vice versa.

A key management tool in the forecasting of change is the EIA study. This is not a defined procedure, rather a predictive concept adapted to each situation. Green and Hunter acknowledge that due to the complexities of environmental change and the immaturity of the concept, literature and studies are inconsistent and fragmentary.[47] This area of research has received increasing attention since the early 1980s. The effect has been an extension of the concept of the EIA study related to tourism impacts to include not only the natural environment ie air, land, light, climate, flora and fauna, but also the built environment and more recently the cultural environment including values, morals, arts, law, heritage, music etc. Significant pressure groups, such as the CPRE, now actively endorse the development and implementation of EIA studies on tourism developments.[48]

Based on the notion that prevention is better than cure the EIA seeks to identify and anticipate both positive and negative impacts from a particular course of action. The detailed evaluation then provides a framework for the debate as to whether the project is desirable. Linked with a disciplined zone identity, the debate moves into a discussion based on informed opinion rather than speculation or purely economic considerations as has been the practice in the past.[49]  As a predictive tool, the EIA by no means removes all uncertainties but does clarify where positive and negative impacts can be anticipated with an improved degree of certainty.[50] Butler also notes that EIA studies done in retrospect, often by academics, provide a valuable appraisal of the outcome of a project as well as a guide as to the validity of the original study if carried out.[51] This suggests that there is a role for an EIA throughout the life of a project. Cost however may well result in only major projects undergoing an EIA and even then not as an ongoing monitor.

Tourism is only one possible contributor to environmental change, however, and the need to monitor environmental change has long been recognised. This in turn enables not only the impacts of the activities of man on the environment to be monitored and steered. It also enables the effects of environmental change on the activities of man, including tourism, to be understood.

Landscape assessment is an important part of the EIA process and efforts are being made to rationalise approaches to the subject. The Countryside Commission discuss a variety of techniques for landscape assessment in A Review of Recent Practice and Research in Landscape Assessment. In particular the need for a flexible approach is underlined recognising the distinctions between landscape description, inventory and classification. Furthermore, if the public are recognised as consumers of the landscape, market segmentation aids the marshalling of different tastes and preferences.[52]

This earlier work has recently been added to by the Countryside Commission with the publication of guidelines for landscape assessment Landscape Assessment Guidance. In this the adoption of a common systematic approach is advocated.[53] The three key elements are seen as description, classification and evaluation of rural landscapes. These in turn provide an identification of characteristics, enabling the reason for a landscape's importance to be understood in depth. From this understanding, issues orchestrating landscape change can be steered to meet objectives such as the restoration of degraded landscapes, protection against erosion of regional diversity and the responsible accommodation of development and change within the landscape. To achieve this, local management strategies are developed to recognise the needs of specific stretches of countryside.[54]

Taylor, Bird et al. (Silsoe College) have undertaken a major research project into landscape change in National Parks. The availability of aerial photography for each Park, dating from the early 1970s and the late 1980s, enabled comparative analysis to be carried out. This looked at land cover types and landscape features, each of which was quantified by inspection. As a result a detailed appraisal has been prepared of change over the time period.[55] As computerised systems develop, immense amounts of countryside data are becoming accessible for use in environmental auditing, impact assessment and complex modelling. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are now readily available, particularly that of the Research Branch, Wildlife and Countryside Directorate of the Dept. of Environment. Amassing data from many sources, from the 1970s to date, enables extensive analysis of topographical features to be carried out over specific areas. Potential applications are extensive and National Parks particularly are seen as potential users of the system.[56]

An alternative approach is taken in the CPRE review of land use change 1945-1990. Published in 1992, a variety of data sources are used to arrive at a consensus view on land utilisation change. As a result the report The Lost Land provides a new insight into the erosion of the traditional landscape enabling a number of recommendations to be made to both Government and local authorities regarding alternative planning strategies. Of particular concern in the findings is the fact that existing planning policies are, arguably, based on flawed statistics. As such the report provides an updated reference point to the earlier debates on land use by Coleman, Best et al.[57] and is therefore an important element in understanding the dynamics of land use change overall.[58] As a national monitor only and lacking regional analysis it is unsuited for use as a Downland monitor per se. Its application however in conjunction with the Taylor, Bird approach above is something that the SDCB should consider further, perhaps in conjunction with a local academic establishment where facilities and expertise are to hand.

As has been noted in the opening paragraph of Chapter 1, the SDCB have already recognised the value of landscape assessment as a monitoring tool and are anticipating such a procedure being adopted for the Sussex Downs in due course.[59]

In summary, this chapter has set out to illustrate management techniques that can be applied for ameliorating the negative impacts that occur when tourism, conservation and the environment are out of balance. To this end, it is important to view the three components of the tripartite equation as mutually dependant rather than stand alone issues in conflict. This view is echoed by the CPRE who endorse the contribution tourism can make to the environment. The CPRE also raise the question of emphasis and suggest that tourism is secondary to the environmental concerns, thus highlighting the dilemma in establishing an appropriate balance.[60]  As has been shown, the process of bringing about a balance is considerably enhanced with the disciplines of an operating framework and criteria. This takes the form of a zoning policy, the adherence to which must be a commitment which is inalienable on the part of decision makers. The determination of visitor zones therefore becomes a key issue and diligence taken at the zone establishment stage will pay dividends in the form of commitment to the disciplines later, when awkward and controversial decisions are necessary. The establishment of the mechanism in turn paves the way for the outcome, which will be sustainable tourism as defined in the well published seven principals identified in the Government's Task Force of May 1991.[61]


Footnotes:


[1] Norbert Heukemes, Chairman, Federation of Nature and National Parks in Europe, Sustainable Tourism Working Group in Shipp D. 1993, Loving Them to Death, Federation of Nature and National Parks of Europe, Kliemo, Eupen, Belgium, p2.

[2] See chapter 1.

[3] See chapter 2 part 4, "Proposed National Park".

[4] See chapter 3 part 9, "Local and County Authority/Public Domain Ownership".

[5] Sheail J. 1981, Rural Conservation in Inter-War Britain, Clarendon Press, Oxford, p96-115.

[6] Sheail J. 1981, p106.

[7] See Chapter 2 part 3, "The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty".

[8] Countryside Commission, 1992, Protected Landscapes in the United Kingdom, CCP 362, p37.

[9] SDCB, 1993, SDCB Objectives, as published and presented at SDCB meeting 19 April 1993.

[10] Countryside Commission, 1984, National Countryside Recreational Survey, CCP 201, quoted in Glyptis S. 1991, Countryside Recreation, Longman, Harlow, p ix.

[11] See Chapter 6, part 3.

[12] Willis K G. Garrod G D, & Saunders C M. 1993, Valuation of the South Downs and Somerset Levels and Moors ESA Landscapes by the General Public, University of Newcastle, Centre for Rural Economy, Executive Summary and Main Report, chapter eight.

[13] See Chapter 5, re: "THE SOUTH EAST AS PART OF THE UK."

[14] English Tourist Board, 1991, Tourism and the Environment, Maintaining the Balance, p9.

[15] Arun District Council Directorate of Environment, Tourism and Leisure, 1993, Draft Tourism Strategy, 1993-1995, revision 1, June, see 6:1.

[16] Shipp D. 1993, p4.

[17] See Chapter 10.

[18] ESCC County Planning Officer, SDCB Officer, 1993, Sussex Heritage Coast Management Plan, 3.1.1. etc.

[19] Shipp D. 1993, p35.

[20] Glyptis S, 1991, Countryside Recreation, Longman, Harlow, p147.

[21] National Geographic Soc. 1989,  National Parks of the United States, p6-8.

[22] National Geographic Soc. 1989, p9.

[23] See Chapter 2 part 9, "Local and Public Authority/Public Domain Ownership".

[24] P Tiplady, SDCB, 1994, personal communication.

[25] Knight J. 1993, "It'll Suit You to a Tee", West Sussex Gazette, 27 May.

[26] Eccles J. 1993, "Victory for Golf Club", Sussex Express, 22 Jan, p5L.

[27] ref. 91/671, Lewes District Planning Office.

[28] Taub C. 1993, Lewes District Planning Office, personal communication, 9 Nov.

[29] Lean G. 1993, "War Flares over Wall Walk", Observer, 1 Aug. p2.

[30] See Chapter 2 part 19, "Footpaths, Bridleways and Byways".

[31] Bonington C. 1993, "President in Action", Friends of National Parks, Viewpoint, 11, Summer, p7.

[32] O'Reilly A M. 1991, "Tourism Carrying Capacity", Ch 28 in Medlik S. Managing Tourism, Butterworth Heinemann, Oxford, p304.

[33] Glyptis S, 1991, p150.

[34] Pearce D. 1989, Tourist Development, Longman, Harlow, p169.

[35] Gunn C. 1988, Tourism Planning, Taylor and Francis, New York, p122.

[36] See Visitor Survey, Chapter 6 part 2.

[37]  ESCC County Planning Officer, SDCB Officer, 1993, 4.5.14, 4.4.3.

[38] National Park Foundation, 1992/3, America's National Parks, Official Visitor Guide, see as example: p129 "Cumberland Gap National Historic Park", permits for backcountry.

[39] Wheeller B. 1991, "Tourisms Troubled Times", Tourism Management, June.

[40] See Chapter 7.

[41] Millar S. 1991, "Heritage Management for Heritage Touirsm" in Medlik S. Managing Tourism, Butterworth Heinemann, Oxford, p120/1.

[42] Direct discussion with visitors shortly after opening, 1993.

[43] See Chapter 2 part 9, "Local & County Authority/Public Domain Ownership"

[44] Fisher M. 1993, "Letter to the Editor", The Downsman, Autumn, No 104, Soc of Sussex Downsmen.

[45] Reed R., Soc. of Sussex Downsmen, 1994, Extraordinary General Meeting, statement on behalf of the Council, Aug.

[46] Green H & Hunter C. 1992, "The Environmental Impact Assessment of Tourism Development", p44, in Johnson P & Thomas B, Perspectives on Tourism Policy, Mansell, London.

[47] Green H & Hunter C. 1992, p30.

[48] CPRE. 1992, Tourism Draft Planning Policy Guidance Notes, London, May, 6.5.

[49] Pearce D. Butler R W, 1993, Tourism Research, Routledge, London, p135.

[50] Wathern P. 1988, Environmental Impact Assessment, Unwin Hyman, London, see particularly Jongh P De, ch.4 - "Uncertainty of EIA", p62-84.

[51] Pearce D. Butler R W, 1993, p138.

[52] Countryside Commission, Land Research Group, 1988, A Review of Recent Practice and Research in Landscape Assessment, CCD25, Ch.7.

[53] Countryside Commission/Cobham Resource Consultants, 1993, Landscape Assessment Guidance, CCP423.

[54] Countryside Commission, 1993, See pages 3,4,5,7,27.

[55] Silsoe College, 1991, Landscape Change in National Parks, Countryside Commission, CCP359.

[56] Higgs G. 1994, "GIS - An Introduction"; Stott A. 1994, "The Countryside Information System"; Fishwick A. Clayson J. 1994, "How GIS is Used in National Parks", Countryside Network News, Dept of City and Regional Planning, University of Wales College of Cardiff.

[57] See various publications including: Best R H. 1968, "Competition for Land Between Rural and Urban Uses", Inst of British Geographers Special Pub. No1 Nov. p89-100; Coleman A. Isbell J. & Sinclair E. 1974, "The Comparative Statistics Approach to British Land Use Trends", Cartographic Journal, 11, p34-41.

[58] Sinclair G. 1992, The Lost Land, CPRE.

[59] See also Chapter 8 "Landscape assessment"

[60] CPRE, 1992, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3.

[61] CPRE, 1992, appendix.

 
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