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Nature as amusement park?

Nature as an amusement park, would you consider it a good idea? Or rather, how far do you think it should go? More and more nature areas seem to cave in to the pressure to attract more people, by organising all sorts of events and amusements in their park. But is that really such a good idea?

I know I’m not the only one having trouble with these new developments. Many people have in fact already spoken out against the new trend, and I don’t want to keep quiet any more either.

I completely agree with the idea that more people should be encouraged to enjoy nature. Absolutely! But I don’t think organising all sorts of events to drag people to the nature areas will really help.

In a way, these events attract more people to visit nature. But they won’t do so for the right reasons. And apart from that, are those (maybe not so nature-interested) visitors worth the damage it does to the park?

In the forests here, you can see bike tracks everywhere. On all of the trails, whether or not they are officially open to bicycles, muddy tracks will reveal that many bikes have passed there. Even the nature around the tracks is not safe, due to all the “off-terrain” bike competitions and runs.

Enjoying the outdoors is great, but please stay on the designated trails!

Enjoying the outdoors is great, but please stay on the designated trails

If you only visit the forest on the day of such a race, you will immediately feel unwelcome as normal nature-loving hiker. It is as if the bikes claim the whole forest to be there at their disposal. There will be flapping barrier tape everywhere, even right across paths. At one time, I had to turn back my horse, because there was tape hung across the horse trail and the trail had very steep slopes on both sides. I then had to take a large detour and in the end even had to ask some of the race officials to be granted passage through one of their tape-created gates. And still they had the nerve to look at me as if I was the one being a huge nuisance.

It is not that one time that makes me upset. I mean, sometimes an exception should be possible for a special event. But events like these are happening so often nowadays, they don’t give nature any chance to recover before the next load of cyclists arrives.

Just "being" in nature can be great too, and it makes you value all of nature's gifts, instead of damaging them.

Just “being” in nature can be great too, and it makes you value all of nature’s gifts, instead of damaging them.

By going on like this, the government and nature organisations bully the true nature lovers out of the forest. And much more importantly, they completely lose track of their main goal. After all, shouldn’t they be the ones looking after nature? Shouldn’t they always put nature’s best interest first? If they go on like this, will there even be nature to protect in a few years’ time?

Above all, it raises the question of what the true purpose of us caring for nature is. It is not about the fun and games. It is not about our own personal enjoyment. It is not about the direct financial gain we get through it. It is about all the other things nature offers us. All of its ecosystem services on which we depend as human society. Nature already gives us so much, we can’t try to get more out of it without damaging those core services.

Would we be willing to give up clean air, clean water, natural pollinators, waste decomposition and more, just so we can have a bit of fun in nature too?
I wouldn’t think so, and I hope the government and nature organisations realise that too, before it is too late.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Bernette

    Good point I think! Enjoying nature should be possible for everyone, but not on nature’s cost. Too bad that forests become an area for large events.
    It is true that mountainbikers, as much as horseriders, have not always other possibilities to hold their competitions. But then make them less frequent, please.
    Nature should be a nice, relatively quiet area where you can relax, not where you have to try to avoid all other people out there.

    07/04/16 at 17:59
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