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Effects of Camping Recreation on Soil, Jack Pine, and Understory Vegetation in a Northwestern Ontario Park

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Intense recreational use in campsites in Rushing River Provincial Park destroyed surface organic horizons resulting in soil compaction and decreased infiltration rates. Annual stem and foliage growth of jack pine was significantly reduced in high impact areas of campsites compared to undisturbed areas. Close correlation existed between annual stem and foliage growth of pine and soil changes in campsites. Growth decreased as soil compaction increased and as litter depth and infiltration rates decreased. Crown mortality and mortality of pine trees was not increased by recreation except for localized losses in some campsites. Jack pine, generally, seems tolerant of stress from recreational use. Major changes in understory vegetation on campsites included replacement of recreation-in-tolerant natural vegetation by recreation-tolerant species. Magnitude of change was related to intensity of recreation. Except for mature trees, all vegetation was obliterated from areas of maximum use. Composition and cover of vegetation on campsites were related to soil characteristics such as depth of organic horizons. Increased soil compaction and loss of surface litter were correlated with maximum displacement of recreation-intolerant plants and coincident replacement by recreation-tolerant species. Differences between campsites with varying intensities and duration of use closely resembled the differences along gradients of intensity of use within campsites. Vegetation in most heavily used campsite areas was less heterogeneous than the undisturbed natural vegetation. Continued heavy recreational use resulted in a vegetation of reduced species richness exhibiting less recolonization by original recreation-intolerant species. Campsites in a jack pine community exhibited progressive loss of indigenous species cover when subjected to long and heavy use. Forest Sci. 25:333-349.

Keywords: Pinus banksiana; compaction; organic matter; trampling

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Department of Land Resource Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1

Publication date: June 1, 1979

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  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
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