What is the impact of a UNSECO status due to visitors on the environment of Herschel Island? - A survey of the influence of trampling on vegetation

Hugues.Lantuit [ at ] awi.de


With rising global tourism demand for wilderness and pristine habitats, the evaluation ofanthropogenic impacts on the environment and preservation efforts has become more andmore important. This study focuses on the Territorial Park Herschel Island Qikiqtaruk in the western Canadian Arctic, which has been on the tentative list for becoming a culturaland natural World Heritage Site since 2004. Thee study was conducted to determine thepotential impacts of a designation in terms of visitor development and trampling disturbances. A thorough literature review suggested a likely increase of tourist numbers after the granting of the World Heritage Status. In this thesis several visitor groups to Herschel Island were included, with a special focus on two main groups: cruise ship visitors and researchers, which make the bulk part of visitors to the territorial park. Park rangers and researchers helped to delineate trails commonly used by cruise ship visitors. GPS and DGPS datasets collected by researchers over the 2014-2017 period were used to show areasfrequently visited for research activities. In general, impacts from anthropogenic trampling directly result from the intensity of trampling but also vary substantially depending on the condition of the vegetation composition. The study identified two ecological classes overwhelmingly impacted by cruiseship visitors and where trail development might occur in the future. The paths used by researchers are more dispersed and the resulting light but steady trampling was also shownto result in vegetation alteration. The impact of visitor disturbance on permafrost could not be evaluated directly on site, but a thorough literature review has shown a strong interrelationship between vegetation disturbances, trampling and permafrost thaw. In conclusion, this thesis formulated and discussed several recommendations for Herschel Island Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park to mitigate effects of visitor impacts on vegetation,which are likely to increase with a rising number of visitors.

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Heinemann, K. (2019): What is the impact of a UNSECO status due to visitors on the environment of Herschel Island? - A survey of the influence of trampling on vegetation Master thesis, University of Potsdam.

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