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Modelling recreational visits to forests and nature areas

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Besides their ecological and production function, the social function of forests and nature areas is becoming more and more important However, data, norms, and planning tools for this social function are limited. This makes it difficult for policy makers to do justice to this function, especially in the Netherlands, where spatial claims for different functions often exceed the available amount of land. In this paper we describe the development of a GIS-based planning tool for the recreational function of forests and nature areas. The tool focuses on the number of visits that may be expected. Besides the size of destination areas also the quality of the areas is taken into account. This quality is assessed using GIS-data on e.g. land-use, relief, noise, and the density of walking and cycling opportunities. Airline distances, as well as road distances (for cars) between residential areas and destination areas are calculated using GIS-analysis. The number of trips generated by a local population is then divided over the available areas within a pre-set range, taking each destination's quality and distance into account. The tool is suited not only for predicting present numbers of visits, but also for simulating the effect of new areas being developed, residential as well as natural. Also it can indicate residential areas where the local supply of forests and nature areas is wanting. Preliminary results for the city of Breda are presented.

Keywords: GIS; attractiveness; distance; quality; recreation; visitors

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: Department of Landscape and Spatial Planning, Alterra, Wageningen, The Netherlands

Publication date: 2002-08-01

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