/ Climbers Attitudes Towards The Environment (Lake District)

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JPhillips7 - on 09 Feb 2010
I am doing research into 'rock climbers attitudes towards the environment?' it is a specific study that is confined to the Lake District National park. There is alot of research that suggests climbing has a negative impact on the environment and that education of the climbing community about the environment would be the best way to reduce this impact. As such their will in the near future be a host of campaigns trying to achieve this along with the ones that are currently running. But for these to be effective we must first know what the attitudes of climbers are towards the environment and that is where this research comes in.

I am running a survey of the Lake District Climbing Community by means of a questionnaire. I am not asking you to fill one out but if you would like to complete one and help out the research then email me at jacob_phillips9@hotmail.com.

What I am asking here is for people thoughts about bolting, groups using climbing locations, erosion, excessive use of chalk e.t.c. If you have any thoughts about the environment in relation to climbing then let's hear them.
SCrossley on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969:
> There is alot of research that suggests climbing has a negative impact on the environment

Is there? could you supply some links, I truly did not know this, I thought climbing other than the transport aspect a pretty green sport.
JPhillips7 - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to bedspring:

Yes there is. The main body of research is on climbing locations in america and it's national parks but there is still penty of research about Europe and the U.K. All of the research papers on this topic are published in academic journals which unfortunately you have to pay to buy or access on the internet. As a good starting point type 'climbings impact on the environment' into google and see what you get.
jonka - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969: But for these to be effective we must first know what the attitudes of climbers are towards the environment and that is where this research comes in.
Who are you?
steve456 on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969: Are there *any* bolts in the lake district (bar a couple in a handful of quarries)? I think everyone is in absolute agreement that there shouldn't be any bolts on British mountain rock.

If you can call little scratches and polished holds 'damage' then climbers only damage it for themselves. I'm not a biologist (or whoever does this kind of thing) and I don't know the significance of the damage to lichens, turfs, rare flowers etc. that used to grow on popular lines now sterilised by chalk but I doubt it touches the impact of other sports.

The huge ruts and scree damage from walkers and runners is genuine erosion with real environmental consequences, splitting habitats, damaging drainage, causing landslips and increasing 'natural' erosion rates and being generally unsustainable and ugly.

I would argue that climbing has a far lesser environmental impact than walking and fell-running. Don't think I've ever looked at a mountain and been ashamed of being a climber but I have felt genuinely ashamed of devastation I've contributed to as a fell-runner.
JPhillips7 - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to steve456:

The mention of bolting and excessive chalk etc was just to get people who read this to think about their actions and air their opinions if they wish.

Thankyou for your opinion.
Offwidth - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969:

"All of the research papers on this topic are published in academic journals which unfortunately you have to pay to buy or access on the internet."

You don't have to pay to give references though do you? What kind of researcher makes such assertions, on a climbing site of all places, without the references to back it up?
toad - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969: I'd be interested to know what your lit review has thrown up, too. Could you give us the indicative references so those of us with an athens/academic login can take a look?
toad - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to toad: It would also be helpful to know what the research is for - Undergrad dissertation (which institution?) something for another body (NT/RSPB/ LDNPA etc?)
Dan J M on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969:

I'd be most bothered about litter and excessive noise than bolts in a few crappy quarries. As for excessive chalk, although unsightly it is a pretty inert substance.

On the whole I think climbers are a pretty well behaved and responsible group.

But good luck with the research (sponsored by who, incidentally?).

Dan



freerangecat - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to toad:
> (In reply to jp70969) I'd be interested to know what your lit review has thrown up, too. Could you give us the indicative references so those of us with an athens/academic login can take a look?

I was going to say the same. A fairly large number on here can access at least some academic journals.
JPhillips7 - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to Offwidth:

Here are some references for you as you requested.

“Our study showed that specialized plants, which include many relic species from the last glaciations and the present that are restricted to limestone cliffs of the Swiss Jura Mountains, are negatively affected by climbing activities.” (Baur, Rusterholz and Muller, 2004, p.869).

Rusterholz, H. Muller, S. W. and Baur. B. (2004) Effects of rock climbing on plant communities on exposed limestone cliffs in the Swiss Jura mountains. Applied Vegetation Science, No. 7, pp.35-40.


“Our study provides strong evidence that rock climbing causes considerable damage to vascular plants, bryophytes, and lichens on the Niagra Escarpment in Southern Onatrio”. (Larson and McMillan, 2002, p.396)

McMillan, M. A. And Larson, D.W. (2002) Effects of Rock Climbing on the vegetation of the Niagara Esacrpment in southern Ontario, Canada. Conservation Biolog, No. 16, pp.389-398.


“Our results suggest that rock climbing has strong negative effects on the extremely diverse and abundant community of land snails that normally occurs on undisturbed cliffs.” (Larson, McMillan and Nekola, 2003, p.620).

Larson, D. Nekola, J. McMillan, M. (2003) Effects of Rock Climbing on the Land Snail Community of the Niagra Escarpment in Southern Ontario, Canada. Journal of Conservation Biology. Volume 17, No.2., pp.616-621.

Hope these are of help to you.

JPhillips7 - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to toad:

Research is for an Undegraduate Dissertation in Outdoor Education at the University of Cumbria.
toad - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969: thanks, if you mail me through my profile I'll let you have my academic e-mail address for your survey. Couple of those refs look familiar (I used to teach a countryside management module and used the Stanage Forum as an example).
jon on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969:
> (In reply to bedspring)
>
> Yes there is. The main body of research is on climbing locations in america and it's national parks but there is still ...

The National Park authorities in the States have always hated climbers , so are you surprised. I'm not.
IainRUK - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to bedspring: It is, loss of flora and fauna in the area is well documented. Just go to a climbed crag and an unclimbed crag. Clear differences
Rampikino - on 09 Feb 2010
Do you have any references for these studies that you were talking about in the Lake District rather than USA?
SCrossley on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to bedspring) It is, loss of flora and fauna in the area is well documented.

I can only repeat myself, where is it well documented and by whom.

Just go to a climbed crag and an unclimbed crag. Clear differences

Is that the result of something that is happening now or the result of crag unearthing in the past.
Si dH - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to bedspring:
I dont think any of us could reasonably deny that a popular crag will, as a result of being popular, have less lichen, moss and plantlife on it than a crag that is rarely or never climbed on. I mean blimey, on occasions we will actively pull the greenery out to get at a good nut placement or hand jam, for example. There may be some correlation the other way around (ie, crags that have less greenery to start with are also more popular climbing destinations) but there is certainly an effect both ways.

The question is whether you think this is important. Personally I do not consider the odd bit of moss or lichen on a crag to be important, particularly when compared to the impact of off-roaders and motocross riders in terms of noise, erosion and air pollution. I would however be willing to avoid certain areas if told they housed particualrly improtant or rare plants (like climbers do with rare birds) - but cant remember ever having seen this informtaion readily available eg in a guidebook.
IainRUK - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to bedspring: Don't be so lazy

http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?hl=en&q=impact+rock+climbing+diversity&as_sdt=2000&a...


http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?hl=en&q=impact+rock+climbing+fauna&as_sdt=2000&as_yl...


http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?hl=en&q=impact+rock+climbing+flora&as_sdt=2000&as_yl...

When we go out into the hills, walkers, climbers, runners, we do damage. Let snot live in ignorance. The mere prescence, the scraping the rock, the damage of rock, the walking of trods, all damages the environment.
IainRUK - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to Si dH: I sort of agree, just keep in mind that the moss is part of a succession, removing it does prevent that succession, so although you aren't removing a tree you are contributing to stopping vegetation (and with it animals) colonising that crag.

I agree though, I still go out. I just accept my prescence does cause damage. We just try to minimise that damage, but as you say, if its me or a a bit of moss, I win..
Stig - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969: You've done two things wrong:

a) not said who you are why you are doing the research. This is essential and is just comes across as rude, frankly. Even your profile says nothing about who you are!

b) you are asking people to email you to receive a questionnaire? You could have used surveymonkey or similar to set up the q'nr and provided a link.

Oh, and a third thing - your questions are entirely vague and don't relate to the title of your post.

This topic has been done before on here - do a search.
toad - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK:

, but as you say, if its me or a a bit of moss, I win..


bah. Lobster lover. Lower plants feel pain too ;)

But we are, as a community, too quick to pat ourselves on the back for a crag clean up, but slower to reckognise the ongoing and insidious problems of erosion and disturbance on the trade routes and at popular crags. For example, I've seen people following to the letter the bird restrictions, but equally I've seen climbers climbing through nests on unrestricted routes on the basis that if it isn't banned it must be ok.

and whoever mentioned erosion from walkers etc, I'm not about to stop climbing, but equally blaming other groups for erosion doesn't mean we abdicate our own responsibility.



i.munro - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to toad:

Surely the point here is that our sport tends to involve that tiny percentage of land that has been so far protected from human activity by being err... steep!

If people were playing football, for example, on a patch of land that happened to have been undisturbed for a couple of thousand years
they would be doing far more damage to rare palnts etc than climbers are.
They aren't, they're in a park which is basically a green desert anyway.

Same for walkers. Damage they do is generally to an already impoverished agricultural landscape.

In a way this isn't our fault, we didn't impoverish the rest of the country but it is the situation as it stands.
IainRUK - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to i.munro: I'm a bit confused, are you making the point that steep cliffs provide refuge for rare plants, away from sheep grazing and human trampling??

For example the plants in Idwal.
Doghouse - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to bedspring) Don't be so lazy
>
Let snot live in ignorance.

No, I think we should educate snot :-)
toad - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to i.munro: I'm not sure about your comment about walkers, the upland peat landscapes are an important habitat, and walkers have the potential to do a lot of damage, however I take your more general point.


I think my concern is that we still have a moral obligation to look after the environment we do have the potential to damage, regardless of what has gone before
Mario Sciacca - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969:

people, let's not forget we are part of the enviroment too..

IainRUK - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to Mario Sciacca:
> (In reply to jp70969)
>
> people, let's not forget we are part of the enviroment too..

What's that meant to mean, apart from a sound bite.
i.munro - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK:

> (In reply to i.munro) I'm a bit confused, are you making the point that steep cliffs provide refuge for rare plants, away from sheep grazing and human trampling??
>
> For example the plants in Idwal.

A refuge from those activities but also from tree felling, ploughing, herbicides & just being concreted over to make a car park.

Have you climbed in Dovedale? Belaying at the top you're in these tiny meadows full of wildflowers & trees. A metre or so away is a fence & beyond that monoculture.

You could turn a flamethrower on those fields & do less damage in terms of species diversity than you probably do sitting in that little space at the top of the cliff.

IainRUK - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to i.munro:
> (In reply to IainRUK)
>
> [...]
>
> A refuge from those activities but also from tree felling, ploughing, herbicides & just being concreted over to make a car park.
>
> Have you climbed in Dovedale? Belaying at the top you're in these tiny meadows full of wildflowers & trees. A metre or so away is a fence & beyond that monoculture.
>
> You could turn a flamethrower on those fields & do less damage in terms of species diversity than you probably do sitting in that little space at the top of the cliff.

Yeah totally agree.
mockerkin on 09 Feb 2010
Dan J M on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to mockerkin:

You provide this link as though it's an answer to the rest of the debate. It's not, from what I can make out it's some half-witted banter about global warming.
willworkforfoodjnr - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969: Isn't this what SSSI's are for? I can't remember seeing many mentioned in climbing guidebooks, but it is fairly common in scrambling guides (especially ghylls).
EeeByGum - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969: It's a tough one really. The references you posted all refer to areas outside the UK. I don't know these areas but I guess that if impact is high, they must be honey pot areas with a high concentration of climbers.

Perhaps in the UK it is less clear how to define the "natural" environment. The Lake District for example only looks like it does due to sheep grazing which is clearly a human induced activity. I suppose the irony of climbing in the Lakes is that at present it seems to be in decline, especially in the more remote areas hence any impact is even less.
toad - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to EeeByGum: not strictly climbers, but the RSPB has funded research on the impact of recreation access on breeding birds

http://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/finney_pearce-higgins_yalden_%26_others_tc...

Saw a presentation on this once, the research looked very simplistic
mockerkin on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to Dan J M:
> (In reply to mockerkin)
>
> You provide this link as though it's an answer to the rest of the debate. It's not, from what I can make out it's some half-witted banter about global warming.
>>
Read it again, it's about cleaning crags.

Howard J - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969:
"I am doing research into 'rock climbers attitudes towards the environment?' ...There is a lot of research that suggests climbing has a negative impact on the environment and that education of the climbing community about the environment would be the best way to reduce this impact."

It appears to me there is an inherent bias in the way this has been phrased. It suggests that it has already been established that climbing has a negative impact on the environment, and that the climbing community needs educating. This is reinforced by the following statement that there will be campaigns to achieve this. This bias may be unconscious, but risks slanting your interpretation of the responses to the survey. Besides, can the answers from a survey where the sample is self-selecting be said to have any validity?

It also implies that impact on the environment is the only important consideration. What about the economic and social impacts? What about the positive impacts - would the environment of the Lake District be as well protected as it is today if it were left to farmers and other commercial interests, without visitors demanding that the scenery and wildlife be protected, if only for their own enjoyment?

Any human intervention must have some impact on the environment, but the same goes for any other organism. The amount of rock actually climbed upon must represent a tiny proportion of the total exposed rock in the National Park. There's undoubtedly some erosion around popular crags, but how does the impact of this compare with other uses? I would guess that the total area significantly impacted by climbing is considerably less than that taken up by a single golf course.

Off the cuff, I'd say that the impact of climbing on the environment is minimal, and very localised. Furthermore climbers are on the whole very aware of environmental issues. Where climbing represents a particular threat to specific localised habitats then voluntary restrictions have on the whole been respected.

JPhillips7 - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to Stig:

Thanks for your advice. I would like to say that the vast majority of my research is being conducted elsewhere i.e. not through this forum. I have only posted this to help provide me with an insight into climbers attitudes. I have not set up an internet questionnaire as I am in the early stages of my research. I would also like to add that this is the first piece of research that I have conducted so inevitabley I will make mistakes and learn along the way.

P.S. I accept your criticism and will take them on board.
JPhillips7 - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969:

Thankyou for your comments and criticisms.

Here is a link to my online questionnaire, please feel free to fill it out if you wish to.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9W96N8Q

Also feel free to keep on airing your opinions on this forum.

Thanks for your help
Jacob
ads.ukclimbing.com
toad - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969: Without trying to sound patronising, that's not a bad survey, and a lot more even handed than I was expecting. I've filled it in online as the version you mailed me wasn't a particularly friendly format
Stig - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969: I was trying to be constructive although it probably didn't come across that way, so sorry about that. Undergraduates are often advised to do questionnaire surveys but it is a very difficult methodology to get right. We've recently spent upwards of £20k on one and it will still have flaws. In your case many of the people with relevant information will have already filled out q's before or are simply too busy and so you will get a very low response rate.

Fair play if you are doing other types of research in addition to the q'nr. If I were you, I would consider doing a very careful 'textual' analysis of threads on UK climbing that discuss environmental issues as they relate to climbing or mountain environments. There are several going at this moment - eg parking in the Pass. That way you are analysing a sample of UK climbers' unsolicited attitudes, taking out two major sources of bias. It would also be a genuinely innovative methodology and unique research - might even get you a 1st!

There have been loads of relevant threads on the Lakes alone: bolt stations/erosion on Dow and Sergeant Crag Slabs, camping in Langdale, crags allegedly becoming more vegetated, endless anti-3 Peaks threads etc. etc.
Pursued by a bear - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to Si dH: You don't have to look far to find such information. Look at the 'Snowdon lily' premier post, for example. I wonder if that changed anyone's behaviour this winter?

T.
Stig - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to Howard J:

>
> Off the cuff, I'd say that the impact of climbing on the environment is minimal, and very localised. Furthermore climbers are on the whole very aware of environmental issues. Where climbing represents a particular threat to specific localised habitats then voluntary restrictions have on the whole been respected.

Off the cuff, I would say that the impact of climbing on the environment is massive and highly globalised. In the last four years alone I have flown to the US, Australia, and three times to Spain simply to climb. >90% of my trips to climb outdoors are by car. Otherwise yes, climbing specific impacts are minimal ;-) And yes climbers are almost certainly more aware as a group than other 'leisure groups', largely I would hypothesise, because they tend to be more highly educated.
Stig - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969: Agree with toad that is a good questionnaire. Only slight problem is with the concept of respect - its a very value-laden term and a bit wooly in that context.
IainRUK - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to Howard J:
> (In reply to jp70969) Furthermore climbers are on the whole very aware of environmental issues. Where climbing represents a particular threat to specific localised habitats then voluntary restrictions have on the whole been respected.

To a point, you are right. But how many climbers, runners walkers have stopped long trips away?

Mine have been curtailed somewhat, but if I'm honest that's more to do with £1.15 per litre diesel, than my carbon footprint.

I think we are willing to make minor concesions, but still unwilling to take too many hits on our freedom to go whereever. I'm guilty of that for sure.

There was an article by Es T on climbing and the environment on UKC.
IainRUK - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to Stig: Sorry you just said what I was posting. Totally agree.
Stig - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK: I find myself in the odd position where my inlaws are Daily Mail-inspired climate change deniers. Fools. But my carbon footprint is miles bigger than theirs so I have no moral high ground.

I think we are doomed just as the Aztecs/Mesopotamians were, unless we can find a technological fix (they thought so too). There's no way that abstinence/behaviour change will work.
Bulls Crack - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969:
As such their will in the near future be a host of campaigns in.
.

A host?

And which ones are currently running?

genuinely interested btw.
Bulls Crack - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969:
> (In reply to bedspring)
>
> Yes there is. The main body of research is on climbing locations in america and it's national parks but there is still penty of research about Europe and the U.K. All of the research papers on this topic are published in academic journals which unfortunately you have to pay to buy or access on the internet. As a good starting point type 'climbings impact on the environment' into google and see what you get.

Could you name some journal refs please? I did something similar years ago and there wasn't much.
IainRUK - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to Bulls Crack: See my google scholar links.
toad - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to Bulls Crack: As I posted above, the RSPB have done a few studies on bird disturbance (the one I linked to was one of their officers PhD research
IainRUK - on 09 Feb 2010
In reply to Howard J:
> (In reply to jp70969)
>The amount of rock actually climbed upon must represent a tiny proportion of the total exposed rock in the National Park.

The thing is its the cracks which are climbed, normally after gardening, and they are what the flora gets established in.

I'm a bit surprised this is even debated.
Howard J - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to Howard J)

> The thing is its the cracks which are climbed, normally after gardening, and they are what the flora gets established in.
>
> I'm a bit surprised this is even debated.

But even on an extensively developed crag there will still be lots of cracks which aren't parts of routes and aren't gardened. Even more areas of bare rock between and around routes which can sustain lichen. Climbs actually take up only a small percentage of the total crag. When you take account that most crags offering similar habitat aren't climbed at all, then the impact is negligible.

Of course, where the habitat on a crag is special in some way then the impact may be much greater.


JPhillips7 - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Stig:
Brilliant thanks alot for the advice have found it very useful and a big help. will take your thoughts onboard: have already done so about the online questionnaire and will look into forum posts about environmental issues.

Thanks Again
Captain Haddock - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to bedspring: The manufacture of climbing gear has a definite environmental impact
IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Howard J:
> (In reply to IainRUK)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> But even on an extensively developed crag there will still be lots of cracks which aren't parts of routes and aren't gardened. Even more areas of bare rock between and around routes which can sustain lichen. Climbs actually take up only a small percentage of the total crag. When you take account that most crags offering similar habitat aren't climbed at all, then the impact is negligible.

Really, look at Stanage?

In the peak most edges are extensively climbed, if climbing stopped on all edges tomorrow I think we'd see more bird life for sure. I don't think it should by the way. I just acknowledge there is a cost.
>
> Of course, where the habitat on a crag is special in some way then the impact may be much greater.

IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK: I should add I think most outdoor pursuits have a negative impact. Running does for sure, many races go over quite untouched terrain and erosion scars can be quite severe. This would be reduced if runners and organisers were more willing to change courses every so often to spread the pressure, but for record purposes this isn't the case. Also as fell running is getting popular, more specifically certain races, fields of 500-1000 aren't uncommon and the erosion can be quite evident.

An obvious example is the Ben Nevis Race which has several eroded tracks which can specifically be attributed to the race.

You could argue that being out in nature makes us more environmentally aware, which I think we are, but as said earlier we still are unwilling to stop our trips abroad and long drives for a weekend's climbing or running.
summo on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK: or any of the lakes classics. Which do cover some well worn walkers paths, but see plenty of folk running the routes to learn them and pick the best line off the beaten path as well etc.

I think climbers might be slightly more aware, having pondered the world on belay stances when waiting for slow partners, where every little thing growing out of cracks becomes interesting after a bit of waiting! Plus on some crags you do get a bit of an aerial view of footpath erosion, which gives it a different sense of scale to that of a walker.
JohnRobbo - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969:

You show me evidence of the "lot of research that suggests that climbing has a negative impact on the environment" and I will complete your questionnire!
IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to JohnRobbo:
> (In reply to jp70969)
>
> You show me evidence of the "lot of research that suggests that climbing has a negative impact on the environment" and I will complete your questionnire!

I've posted google scholar links..
toad - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to JohnRobbo: Lazy. Try reading the rest of the thread.
JPhillips7 - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to JohnRobbo:

Here are some references for you as you requested.

“Our study showed that specialized plants, which include many relic species from the last glaciations and the present that are restricted to limestone cliffs of the Swiss Jura Mountains, are negatively affected by climbing activities.” (Baur, Rusterholz and Muller, 2004, p.869).

Rusterholz, H. Muller, S. W. and Baur. B. (2004) Effects of rock climbing on plant communities on exposed limestone cliffs in the Swiss Jura mountains. Applied Vegetation Science, No. 7, pp.35-40.


“Our study provides strong evidence that rock climbing causes considerable damage to vascular plants, bryophytes, and lichens on the Niagra Escarpment in Southern Onatrio”. (Larson and McMillan, 2002, p.396)

McMillan, M. A. And Larson, D.W. (2002) Effects of Rock Climbing on the vegetation of the Niagara Esacrpment in southern Ontario, Canada. Conservation Biolog, No. 16, pp.389-398.


“Our results suggest that rock climbing has strong negative effects on the extremely diverse and abundant community of land snails that normally occurs on undisturbed cliffs.” (Larson, McMillan and Nekola, 2003, p.620).

Larson, D. Nekola, J. McMillan, M. (2003) Effects of Rock Climbing on the Land Snail Community of the Niagra Escarpment in Southern Ontario, Canada. Journal of Conservation Biology. Volume 17, No.2., pp.616-621.

Hope these are of help to you.

If you want to help out and air your opinion then the short questionnaire is available at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9W96N8Q

Hope that helps you.
SteveD - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to ALL: I would suggest that climbing has a lower impact on the environment than gardening, the carbon footprint alone must be huge (look at the carpark of the average garden centre on a sunday). Huge tracts of the country taken over to flat lawns and alien plant species. Poisons, pesticides and fertilisers by the ton plus moving the stuff all over the world for no real reason or benefit.

Steve D
toad - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to SteveD: And is that not the point? You recognise your action has an impact, you take action to minimise it - you make compost, you avoid pesticides etc. What you shouln't say is: well my garden has less of an environmental impact than bauxite mining, so that's all right then.

Climb is ok, environmentally speaking, but that doesn't mean we sit on our hands and ignore the environmental impact it does have.
IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to SteveD: That's a good point..if there was one..so gardening is worse..arguable but why does that matter..

And for no reason, most past times are for no reason. Look at cragging, climbing up a route when you could walk to the top. OK there's the physical benefit, but gardening is also excellent in providing elderly with some excersise.
Howard J - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to Howard J)
> [...]
>
> Really, look at Stanage?
>
> In the peak most edges are extensively climbed, if climbing stopped on all edges tomorrow I think we'd see more bird life for sure. I don't think it should by the way. I just acknowledge there is a cost.
> [...]

er .. the question is about the Lake District.

Pick any Lake District guidebook and take look at a crag topo. Even places like Gimmer which are laced with routes still have significant gaps between the climbs. The amount of rock which is actually climbed upon is tiny compared with the size of the whole crag. When you then consider how many other crags are not climbed on at all then the amount of climbed rock must represent an infinitesimal percentage of the total Lake District habitat.

Of course sometimes the mere presence of a human can have an effect on wildlife. However where there is a particular issue with breeding birds, or a special habitat which needs protecting, climbers have on the whole responded positively to restrictions, where these are appropriate.

The question should be, not whether climbing has a negative impact - everything we do has a negative impact - but whether that impact is significant. In the vast majority of cases, gardening a route will not have a significant impact because the habitat that route provides is very common elsewhere. In the few cases where it would be significant, I like to think most climbers would respect that.

The difficulty is, the questions are too black and white. Yes, climbing has a negative impact, but it also has a positive impact. How much of the Lake District has been protected because visitors, including climbers, are attracted by the scenery and environment? How much work has been done to tidy up crags and repair erosion (not all of it caused by climbers)? What about the work done by climbers to help bodies like the RSPB to carry out bird surveys and other conservation work?

It's easy to point out both sides of the equation, the problem is working out the net impact. But even if the net impact is negative, what then? The environment is just one factor to be considered. Unlike US national parks, which are intended to be areas of natural wilderness untouched by man, UK national parks are lived in and worked in, and environmental considerations have to be balanced against economic, social and other factors.


IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Howard J: Oh sorry as a scientist I thought we could use case studies. I used stanage as a well known location. But yes of course the busiest road side lakes crags will have a lack of flora and fauna..

You are also trying to tie this up in words with semantics.

If climbing is stated as having a negative impact, then it will have been demonstrated significantly. No, well very few, would make such a statement without testing significance. Come on..

Jumping up and down and being instantly defensive is just silly. There's no other word for it. If we can't have areas untouched by man in NPA's where can we?

What about the good work done by climbers. That same argument was used by Fox Hunts.

As I said I'm mainly active in a sport which also does damage. I just think we should admit if there is damage.

And balancing economic V environmental is a whole can of worms. Don't go there....
IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Howard J: " In the vast majority of cases, gardening a route will not have a significant impact because the habitat that route provides is very common elsewhere. "

This is just gash..
chris wyatt - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969:

Jp - Done your survey.

I think ther is a lot of unnecessary defensiveness about this topic. Climbing provides its devotees with a unique appreciation of nature as well as fitness, good mates etc. It can also damage the environment - undeniably. That said, some work climbers have done on crags actually improves bio diversity - eg the removal of ivy sheets can allow other plants breathing room I believe.

However on balance - and with good understanding of sensitive issues we can all reduce the damage and increase the good we do to the environment we enjoy. I think the main thing is to get into dialog with conservationists to mutually find out where the red lines really are and to see how cooperation instead of confrontation can improve the issue.

That said - I hope conservationists and their organisations will also note that we have some red lines too!

Good luck with your thesis JP
IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969: Did your survey too, forgot with all the arguing about that...:-)
toad - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to chris wyatt:
> (In reply to jp70969)
>
> Jp - Done your survey.
>

>
> However on balance - and with good understanding of sensitive issues we can all reduce the damage and increase the good we do to the environment we enjoy. I think the main thing is to get into dialog with conservationists to mutually find out where the red lines really are and to see how cooperation instead of confrontation can improve the issue.
>

Absolutely - defensiveness and head burying gets us nowhere. Climbers need to engage on an individual level as well, not just through BMC etc - talking to people can do loads of good

> That said - I hope conservationists and their organisations will also note that we have some red lines too!
>
Yeees, it's just ours aren't backed by the threat of imprisonment or unlimited fines ;p
Howard J - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK: Why is it "gash"?? In the majority of cases the plants and wildlife living on a route will be commonplace. There will be many more examples of similar habitats, perhaps in the immediate vicinity, certainly on other crags, most of which will never be climbed upon. Gardening this route will certainly have an impact on the plants and animals living on it, but won't have a significant impact on the overall amount of that habitat in the Lake District.

Of course, where that habitat is not commonplace, then the impact would be very significant.
Andy Stephenson - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969: there seems to be an assumption there that anything that causes a change to the environment as a result of climbing is bound to be negative. Probably that's true to some extent, but it's a vague assertion which really needs investigating and defining more precisely.

For instance, when footpaths were closed due to F&M some years ago, some people put forward the (apparently self-evident) notion that this would help the environment by allowing the overgrowth of wild plants which had previously been trampled to death by the constant footfall.

The truth was that a wide variety of wild plants were actually destroyed by this neglect of footpaths; the forging of these tracks had led to a remarkable diversity of habitat within a small area, and allowed a number of plants to take hold on the more open footpath borders and the almost bare areas inside. So this meant a high level of biodiversity, albeit in narrow corridors.
These plants were then suppressed by the heavy foliage that took over once the passage of feet stopped.

Now it might be that the clearance of paths for access to a cliff doesn't have any positive impact at all. But has anyone actually established that as a fact in all cases?
Howard J - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK:
>
> You are also trying to tie this up in words with semantics.
>
> If climbing is stated as having a negative impact, then it will have been demonstrated significantly.

I don't think it has. The survey seems to assume this as a given, supported only by US research in rather different circumstances, including a different understanding of what a national park is for. I think it's more complicated than that.

The survey asks simple questions: do you think climbing has a negative/positive impact? I felt able to answer yes to both.


>If we can't have areas untouched by man in NPA's where can we?

Virtually nowhere in the UK. A few parts of the Scottish highlands, perhaps. Parts of the coastline. Virtually all the rest of the UK's countryside has been shaped by man's activities. Certainly the Lake District has.

What UK national parks cannot do (as US parks have) is to exclude human activity. They are places where people live and work, and compromises have to be made. UK National Parks are creations of the planning system, with some different powers from other planning authorities.

>
> What about the good work done by climbers. That same argument was used by Fox Hunts.

Does that make it invalid? The case against foxhunting was on moral grounds, not environmental.

>
> As I said I'm mainly active in a sport which also does damage. I just think we should admit if there is damage.
>
I'm not denying there is damage. The question is how much, and to what extent does it matter? Even if we cause significant damage to a few crags, how important is that in the context of the Lake District as a whole?

> And balancing economic V environmental is a whole can of worms. Don't go there....

The environment doesn't exist in a vacuum. To take it to the extreme, suppose climbing in the Lake District were to be banned because of the environmental damage it causes (as has happened in some US national parks). Suppose hillwalking, which possibly causes more widespread damage, were to be banned. The impact this would have on the Lake District would be immense. Are you suggesting that any conclusions, and in particular any recommendations, drawn from a study like this should not recognise that impact?
IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Andy Stephenson:
> (In reply to jp70969) there seems to be an assumption there that anything that causes a change to the environment as a result of climbing is bound to be negative.

any change is a negative.

Why do people autiomatically equate increasing diversity as a positive thing..

Probably that's true to some extent, but it's a vague assertion which really needs investigating and defining more precisely.
>
> For instance, when footpaths were closed due to F&M some years ago, some people put forward the (apparently self-evident) notion that this would help the environment by allowing the overgrowth of wild plants which had previously been trampled to death by the constant footfall.
>
> The truth was that a wide variety of wild plants were actually destroyed by this neglect of footpaths; the forging of these tracks had led to a remarkable diversity of habitat within a small area, and allowed a number of plants to take hold on the more open footpath borders and the almost bare areas inside. So this meant a high level of biodiversity, albeit in narrow corridors.
> These plants were then suppressed by the heavy foliage that took over once the passage of feet stopped.
>
> Now it might be that the clearance of paths for access to a cliff doesn't have any positive impact at all. But has anyone actually established that as a fact in all cases?

IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Howard J: "where that habitat is not commonplace"

The lakes aren't commonplace, we have very few remote high north facing crags for example, so many plants which colonise will be rare.
IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Howard J: Look go with the, well that's a US study...

Immaterial. ecology is ecology.
Andy Stephenson - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to Andy Stephenson)
> [...]
>
> any change is a negative.
>
If that's so, we can never improve the environment anywhere!
IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Howard J: "There is alot of research that suggests climbing has a negative impact on the environment and that education of the climbing community about the environment would be the best way to reduce this impact"

Look this all stemmed from this.

It seems quite a good statement. The lit is as clear as day. And education would not be harmful.


It wasn't saying ban climbing, just that the research suggests a negative impact and how to reduce this. Pretty clear.
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IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Andy Stephenson: Of course you can't. There is nothing any better than a totally pristine environment.

Any interference of native diversity, increase or not, is a negative. However of course you can reduce the impacts.

Look at nutrient poor soils on hill tops, bang in nutrients and you'd get loads more biomass and probably diversity, good thing? No!
toad - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK:
>
>
> Look at nutrient poor soils on hill tops, bang in nutrients and you'd get loads more biomass and probably diversity, good thing? No!


weeeeellll. On Bleaklow, they've had to use nitrates to get vegetation to establish to stabilise the peat groughs ;)

But the more general point is that you have to assess each site and each activity at that site on its merits. What may be good management at Stanage, may not be appropriate at Frogatt. Similarly removing ivy or vegetation from one crag may be desirable, wheras any gardening at another might be disasterous, we need to be careful of making blanket statements about management.
IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to toad: Why? Are the peat groughs unstable because of human induced erosion? If so then they are just righting a wrong, well trying to.

I'm always wary of mass manipulation, saying that I organised the bleaching of marine area in NZ, but that was to kill of an invasive and there was inevitable collateral damage. But re-succession would be rapid.

Why manage though? I know that's a simplistic view but in the marine environment we are less interfering. And the ideal conservation is marine protected areas which are almost no take zones.

IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to toad: Probably better not to answer that as we'll just get off topic, I think we've discussed before about the halting of succession in moorlands so its been done.
IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to toad:
> (In reply to IainRUK)
> [...]
>
>
> weeeeellll. On Bleaklow, they've had to use nitrates to get vegetation to establish to stabilise the peat groughs ;)
>
> But the more general point is that you have to assess each site and each activity at that site on its merits.

What I'm saying though, keeping it on track, is climbing, i.e. non-management reductions in biomass or diversity, must be a negative impact.

I'll concede that management is site specific, but climbing isn't done for that reason.

Its very head in the sand here regards to the impact. TBH I think fell running as a sport is further ahead than climbing in tackling environmental issues.

Car sharing initiatives, carbon taxes on entry, route changes, cancellations.
toad - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK: (The moors for the Future website can answer the Bleaklow specifics - http://www.moorsforthefuture.org.uk/mftf/main/Home.htm )

Back on track:

You are right about climbing, I fear. I think it is very telling that the BMC lumps access and conservation together, when they are often mutually antagonistic.
Andy Stephenson - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to Andy Stephenson) Of course you can't. There is nothing any better than a totally pristine environment.
>
> Any interference of native diversity, increase or not, is a negative.
I was replying to your sweeping assertion that "any change is a negative". That would include attempts to stabilise damage, or to protect delicate habitats (both of which causes change).

I guess you haven't much experience of the Lake District either, or else you would realise that there is NO pristine environment there. Sheep grazing, for instance, has had a huge impact. Rabbits too, and mining. So did the glaciers, for that matter. Positive or negative? Depends on what you think is most valuable. If you value juniper, to take a random example, you might appreciate the effects of rabbits and mining (both of which help the spread of juniper): but not sheep. But is juniper a "native" species in its distribution, or has it been spread only by the work of man? There must be hundreds of similar examples.

How this relates to the thread is that, although everything has an impact, it's unclear to me that climbing has a significant impact when compared with activities such as tourism and farming. And on top of that, I'm not sure how much of the effect can safely be regarded as 100% negative.
toad - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Andy Stephenson: climbing is tourism. I think sometimes we forget.
IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Andy Stephenson: I qualified my statement. I have quite a bit of experience in the lakes, I live in Snowdonia, so even though it isn't 'pristine' at the macro level, I think we can assume certain sections to be as near so as can be in the UK. For example North facing high altitude crags, where rare species like the lilly have survived.

Sheep negative
Rabbits same
Mining same

Glaciers!!! to compare such a process with the grazing of sheep, mining and introduction of rabbits is so ignorant it beggars belief. Are you pissed?

Storms, Glaciers, fires, volcano's and other natural epidodes of course impact on biodiversity, negatively from our point of view maybe - personally I'd say no (assuming natural fire of natural foilage), but from nature's perspective they just happen. For example without fire many species cannot live, new subtstrates provided following disturbance and storms is an important part of succession and many species life history.

Re extension of a range is a hugely complex area. So far outside of this remit its untrue. I worked for Biosecurity New Zealand and spent many hours debating the range extension issues and where intervention was warranted. I don't think we should go there.
IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Andy Stephenson:
> it's unclear to me that climbing has a significant impact when compared with activities such as tourism and farming. And on top of that, I'm not sure how much of the effect can safely be regarded as 100% negative.


Wow..

Farming and 'tourism' (as Toad says climbing is tourism, only the pompous climbers don't count themselves as tourists, if they travel to a different area for liesure, they are tourists), have little impact on steep cliffs. Read the recent BMC article on the Snowdon lilly, go on try and educate yourself..
Dan J M on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK:

TBH I think fell running as a sport is further ahead than climbing in tackling environmental issues.

Car sharing initiatives, carbon taxes on entry, route changes, cancellations.

'Further ahead' - do you want to be taxed for your God-given free right to enjoy the countryside. I'm ready for the day someone stands in front of a crag and demands a carbon tax from me, I can tell you...
IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Dan J M: ooh fighting talk..get you..

It's an optional price they calculate and you tick the box. More than anything it just makes you think about your carbon useage.

Dan J M on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK:

Fair play;)
IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Dan J M: Sorry I also meant at races, I realised later than entry could read at gates..I mean on an online entry form you'll sometimes see this contribution..:-)
Pursued by a bear - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969: Interesting topic you've opened up here, with two questions possible in your original post - what are the attitudes of climbers towards the environment generally and the crag environment specifically?

One of the issues about looking at this in the Lake District is the absence of a signature species on or around the crag (birds don't really count in this respect and are well covered by climbing bans already). The LD does have them - small leaved lime has been the subject of some studies as it finds its northern limit (or used to, warming may have extended its reach) in the area, and there are distinct fish species in some lakes but the first doesn't grow on crags and the second...well, that should be obvious. The contrast with the Snowdon lily, where there's something that can be held up as a distinct reason to care for some areas, is a good one. There may be rare lichens, mosses and ferns on crags but trying to raise awareness of them would be hard work. The locations where less common species might be found are probably in gill beds where they're more at risk from scramblers than climbers as such, and on the distinctly unclimable near vertical choss of places such as Hobcarton crag on the north-facing side on the Grisedale Pike ridge. After you, if you fancy climbing there...

So whilst the environment shouldn't be unnecessarily degraded by over-enthusiastic cleaning and gardening, I'm guessing that climbing doesn't disturb anything that can't be found easily enough in other places in the region, perhaps on the same crag, and so the question becomes one not of species disturbance or threat but of general degradation through use and litter, and so a subject very similar to other studies that must have been done about the effect of visitors on honeypoet mountain areas. This means that the bit about the attitudes of climbers towards things environmental becomes something more for the sociologist than the environmentalist.

Just some meanderings; hope they help.

T.
IanC - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969:

Very interesting topic, it has always struck me as an irony that those who enjoy mountainous areas are probably some of the most aware of the need for preservation.

It seems from this thread, it seems that an attitude of climbing alright because something else is worse. That surly is analogous to saying stealing a pound is alright because he stole a tenner.

It is of course human nature to protect our interests firsts before looking at interests of the wider community. And of course we all want to keep climbing.

jp- "education of the climbing community about the environment would be the best way to reduce this impact"
Education alone will not reduce the impact, only actions from climbers. As an aside, What actions would the education try and teach?
EeeByGum - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK: I think you have gone a bit OTT with your reply to Andy Stephenson. He makes some very good points. You say that sheep are negative to the environment, but they do by-and-large make the Lake District what it is today.

It is also my understanding that left to its own devices nature would have more or less the whole UK back under tree canopy - even the summits of Snowdon and Scar Fell Pike so I am not sure where that leaves the rare Snowdon Lilly.

As Andy said, how do you define negative impact? It is a tough one to answer.
IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to EeeByGum:
> (In reply to IainRUK) I think you have gone a bit OTT with your reply to Andy Stephenson.

Firstly, he was the one who made the comment, well you never get out in the lakes. He was wrong

>
> As Andy said, how do you define negative impact? It is a tough one to answer.

Of course its not. Look at the links. Say crag X is unclimbed has 24 species and a 60% cover of lichen, crag Y 1 mile away, similar env. setting, has a 20% cover and 3 species. Therefore climbing has negativey impacted.

Without a doubt climbing, walking, running in the hills DO have a negative impact. I don't see what is so wrong with admitting that. It doesn't mean we'll be banned from the national parks, they know that damn well.

I'm sorry but it is head in the sand.

Negative impact could easily be defined as a loss in species diversity or abundance through human prescence and actions.

This has been analysed in numerous studies, statistically tested, and is beyond doubt. At a local level it has an impact.

At the global level I personally think out huge distances travelled is a greater issue. But I still travel. I just don't see what is wrong with saying that maybe that's a teeny bit of an issue..
IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to EeeByGum:
> (In reply to IainRUK) I think you have gone a bit OTT with your reply to Andy Stephenson. He makes some very good points. You say that sheep are negative to the environment, but they do by-and-large make the Lake District what it is today.
>

Yes and at the environmental level, for nature that is a negative impact. Look at sheep exclusion zones. For our enjoyment grazing is better, easier access, better views. Environmentally its clear as day..

IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to EeeByGum: In reply to EeeByGum: And re Sheep, more widely grazing animals, in Australia its estimated that the agriculture sector is the second biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions behind the energy sector, producing about 16 per cent of Australia's total emissions.

Two-thirds of that figure is produced by livestock, and 66 per cent of those emissions are released as methane from the guts of grazing livestock such as sheep and cattle.

So yes, sheep are sources of greenhouse gas and reduce diversity and prvent succession. So yes, clearly they have a negative impact on the environment.

It is not a tough one to answer.

Th etough part is where we draw the line. How much impact by climbing/walking should be tolerated, what can we do to minimise that impact.

Pretty simple stuff to acknowledge, well I'd have thought it was, once acknowledged, it's where we go from here that is the problem.

I'm just surprised a debate is needed to prove we are at this point though..

All the OP did was state that there was a negative impact and how best to educate, and everyone went up in arms saying, 'no chance show me..that's not the UK, not relevant to the Lakes, blah blah gardenings worse..'..poor show by a lot of the climbing community.

Yet every study has shown a negative impact.

Right up there with climate change denial.

That we even needed to have this debate is quite shocking, that's what is annoying.

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toad - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to EeeByGum: There is an assumption there (I think) that the landscape is constant. Sheep in numbers are a recent introduction to the uplands, and whilst there is a widely repeated factoid that there was a uniform tree cover over the uk, the reality is that, particularly in the uplands, this wasn't neccessarily the case (Oliver Rackham has a lot to answer for).

The move in upland farming strategy at govt level has been away from sheep for a number of years and to produce a much more diverse vegetation structure.

Just because a landscape is so at the moment doesn't mean this is desirable or a static situation. So if we recognise that recreation of any sort is impacting on a landscape, what we shouldn't do is assume this is a fait accompli, rather look to see what the scale and importance of that change are, and, if appropriate, look for steps to minimise it. I don't think that is an unreasonable thing to ask for.
Dan J M on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK:

Sheep aren't 'negative' to the environment. They make the grass all nice, and they taste good. So what if they fart out a bit of CO2 or CH4 or whatever. Just about everything that lives does.
IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Dan J M: Taste good is important I'll concede that :-)
Marek - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to EeeByGum)
> [...]
>
> Yes and at the environmental level, for nature that is a negative impact. Look at sheep exclusion zones. For our enjoyment grazing is better, easier access, better views. Environmentally its clear as day..

IainRUK,
I'm not looking for an argument, just clarification...
What exactly do you mean (here and in other posts in this thread) by "positive" and "negative"? These seem to be ethically loaded statements and I'm not sure how they relate to ecology or the environment. Do you equate positive/negative simply with numerical biodiversity (for want of a better phrase)? Or is it something to do (directly) with the impact of human activity (which itself can improve or degrade biodiversity)? Or is it a measure of how things have changed since X years ago? There seems to be an underlying assumption in some positions that the effects of human activity are bad/negative almost by definition irrespective of their effect. I'm trying to square that with the fact that (a) the Lake District (for instance) is largely a man-made environment and (b) humans are part of nature not outside of it.
TIA...
Bulls Crack - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Dan J M:
> (In reply to IainRUK)
>
> Sheep aren't 'negative' to the environment. They make the grass all nice, and they taste good. So what if they fart out a bit of CO2 or CH4 or whatever. Just about everything that lives does.

Depends on if you want a more wooded landscape or not.
IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Marek: Huge area now.

I think you can to a point, separate humans and nature. By a 'pristine' environment then you'd look for something which has been minimally impacted on.

I count negative as a loss, be it diversity or biomass, by humans being there. For example if a climbed crag has 50% less species than a comparable unclimbed crag, and that difference is significant, then yes, I think you can say negative impact.

Not how things have changed, just how sites that are well visited are impacted on compared to there more less frequented counter parts.

I'd also argue that the lakes isn't largely man made. Hugely impacted on yes.

All I think, obviously its an outlandish view, is that trying to minimise our negative impact isn't a bad thing. Which is what the OP was getting at.

IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK: I'm quite surprised how defensive many are about the impact of climbing. I readily accept that every run I do up in the hills, every step of my foot, has an impact. I still do it. Should I?

I think so, why not? It's there to be enjoyed. I just think we should minimise that.
Marek - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to Marek) Huge area now.
>
> I think you can to a point, separate humans and nature. By a 'pristine' environment then you'd look for something which has been minimally impacted on.
>
> I count negative as a loss, be it diversity or biomass, by humans being there. For example if a climbed crag has 50% less species than a comparable unclimbed crag, and that difference is significant, then yes, I think you can say negative impact.
>

OK, you seem to count numerical biodiverity as the measure of positive/negative. Does that suggest that we could/should consider a "biodiversity-offset" policy of artificially propogating more species in an area? In that way the human impact could be significantly positive rather than negative. Or does that fact that such an biodiversity would be "human-driven" disqualify it from being "positive". I'm just trying to follow the reasoning here.
TIA...


> Not how things have changed, just how sites that are well visited are impacted on compared to there more less frequented counter parts.
>
> I'd also argue that the lakes isn't largely man made. Hugely impacted on yes.
>
> All I think, obviously its an outlandish view, is that trying to minimise our negative impact isn't a bad thing. Which is what the OP was getting at.

IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Marek: Sometimes I take negative impact as a loss in biodiversity but in other areas an increase in biodiversity (alien species or disruption) could be a negative impact.

And your latter point. Not really. I think reducing our impact is the way to go. I'm not sure the BMC or any other organisation should look at remedial work.

I think leave such works to the NPA. By visiting we will no doubt help fund their work, it just helps to minimise impact.
Marek - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to Marek) Sometimes I take negative impact as a loss in biodiversity but in other areas an increase in biodiversity (alien species or disruption) could be a negative impact.
>

So I'm still trying to pin down this concept of positive/negative which doesn't reduce to "all human activity is bad/negative". Would you consider the active restoration of the Lake District back to how it was pre-tourism a positive? What could count as a positive human impact?


> And your latter point. Not really. I think reducing our impact is the way to go. I'm not sure the BMC or any other organisation should look at remedial work.
>

I agree. I was merely running a "thought experiment" in an attempt to understand the positive/negative reasoning.



IainRUK - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Marek:
> (In reply to IainRUK)
> [...]
>
> So I'm still trying to pin down this concept of positive/negative which doesn't reduce to "all human activity is bad/negative". Would you consider the active restoration of the Lake District back to how it was pre-tourism a positive? What could count as a positive human impact?
>

Of course at the simple level it is. Does that mean do I think all human influence should be removed? no. Pre-tourism? Pre-farming?

I think allowing tracts of land to revert to climax vegetation for that habitat is a good thing.

To be honest I think that is lessening the negative impact than a positive impact.

If you are being pedantic and picking me up on that point, fair enough, I think some manipulation can be warranted. I stated earlier how I was involved in such work. I just mean human presence in an area. Climbers, walkers, them being there is a negative.
Howard J - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to IanRUK:

>Say crag X is unclimbed has 24 species and a 60% cover of lichen, crag Y 1 mile away, similar env. setting, has a 20% cover and 3 species. Therefore climbing has negativey impacted.

Of course. But it's not simple comparison between crag X and crag Y, it's a comparison between crag Y which is climbed on and all the other unclimbed crags and craglets throughout the Lake District which offer a similar habitat. Put in that perspective, the undoubted damage to crag Y may be within tolerable limits. Where it isn't then undoubtedly appropriate protection needs to be put in place.

It's highly unlikely that climbing would be banned in the Lake District - but for economic reasons. In the US there have been examples of climbing being banned on environmental grounds where there isn't an economic benefit. That's why I'm saying you shouldn't look at the environment in isolation, you also need to bear in mind other considerations.

Look, I'm not suggesting that climbing doesn't have an impact, it's what that impact is and how far it goes which is in question, and this is where I wonder how helpful studies of other areas can be.

It's self-evident that education would increase awareness of the issues but whether that in turn would make people change their behaviour is a different matter.



toad - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Howard J:
> (In reply to IanRUK)
>
>>
> Look, I'm not suggesting that climbing doesn't have an impact, it's what that impact is and how far it goes which is in question, and this is where I wonder how helpful studies of other areas can be.
>
>
Ecological studies looking at the specifics of the impact of climbing on that environment would be perfectly valid, providing environmental conditions aren't radically different. US or lower alpine studies would be perfectly acceptable

And I'm now feeling guilty as the OP referenced these perfectly reasonable papers, and now now we've hijacked his thread and had it away over the hills

Hey climbers, help a fellow climber and fill out his reasonably objective and easy undergraduate survey and help him get a good grade!

guilt assuaged
JPhillips7 - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to toad:

Thankyou for all the post up to now.
some very intruiging and highly debateable points being made.

I would just like to clarify that I was only stating that some (not all)research suggests that climbing may be having a negative impact on the environment. For an exact definition of negative then you will have to look at each individual research paper as they are very specific and specialized to certain areas of study and they define it differently depending on the subject matter they are researching.

I have read every post and I am glad to see that every one cares about this subject regardless of what view they take.


If you wish to help out by completeing a questionnaire then visit: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9W96N8Q

To be eligible to complete the questionnaire you must have ,at some time, climbed in the Lake District National Park.

By taking part in the survey you consent to your information being used as part of this research project with the potential of it being published. This survey is annonymous.

Thankyou everyone for all your help and thoughts. Please keep discussing this as it is all of great interest and help to me and hopefully to other aswell.
stevefromstoke - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969:
I'm afriaid i found your survey a little too simplistic and i wonder what answers you expected to get to Q's 8 and 9. Anyone that puts strongly disagrees to them is a tool and most likely trying to mess up your results

good luck with your work though
Marek - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to jp70969:
I went to the survey, but eventually didn't fill it in because...
<over-analysis alert>
... I couldn't see how it could capture my attitude to the environment in any meaningful way. Let me explain. As someone else mentioned, it was very simplistic, but more importantly for me, ambiguous. I could see me providing significantly different answers depending on how I interpreted the questions or even how I though you might have meant the questions to be interpreted. For example, to bang on about my previous point - what does "negative/positive impact" mean? To some it applies simply to the level of biodiversity. To others it might relate to some wooly concept of "level of respect" for the environment. Climbing pretty clearly has a negative impact in the former case, but probably (in my experience at least) a positive impact in the latter. The fact that you asked two obviously contradictory questions (4 & 7) lead me to think that you hadn't really thought about how you were going to analyse the results. Have you tried a mental dry run of your survey based on a range of possible attitudes that you are trying to distinguish and looked to see if you can "reverse engineer" the attitudes from the answers? If you can't (which I suspect is the case) then the survey will not be able to give you good data from which you can draw any useful (defensible) conclusions. Crafting such questionaires efficiently (minimum questions, maximum data quality) is quite an art and commonly underestimated in terms of the effort that has to be put in to designing the questions.

Anyway, lecture over. Sorry if I came over negative - perhaps it's my problem not yours. Good luck.

Andy Stephenson - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK:
> Glaciers!!! to compare such a process with the grazing of sheep, mining and introduction of rabbits is so ignorant it beggars belief. Are you pissed?
I'm not sure why you're so aggressive. Your assertion that only "pristine environment is OK", although fine in principle, is a simplistic view which doesn't apply too well to the entirely human-managed Lake District. If you know the Lakes so well, it's odd that you think that any significant amount of it is anywhere near "pristine". It's always been changing in recent times, through the impact of climate (we are in an ice age, so glaciation is relevant), vegetation and animals (including humans). So what's "pristine"? You might point at a stand of juniper (as I mentioned), but that may well only exist because of previous mining activity (or rabbits). It's all a bit academic. In any case, British National Parks aren't supposed to be like U.S. National Parks; they are there to be used (and protected to some extent) rather than just be entirely protected with a minimum of useage. That's mostly because it's accepted that the LD landscape wasn't pristine in the first place.

It's not all black and white / positive and negative. There are degrees of impact, and opinions of whether the environment is seriously degraded by it. Does an SSSI always have a negative impact? Some would argue that the Honister Via Ferrata development is a positive addition, but it depends on your viewpoint.

The relevance is that perhaps (or perhaps not), climbing's impact is either so trivial to be worth ignoring... or as well as some negative impact it could have some impact which SOME people might see as positive. I don't know, I'm just questioning the simplistic assumptions.
Andy Stephenson - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to IainRUK:
> only the pompous climbers don't count themselves as tourists, if they travel to a different area for liesure, they are tourists),
Wow, thanks! Well I never!

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