quinta-feira, 17 de agosto de 2017

CAPACIDADE DE SUPORTE: Multidão de visitantes nos parques americanos desafia gestores

COMENTÁRIO DE AXEL GRAEL: O número de visitantes nos parques nacionais americanos bateu um novo recorde em 2016: 325 milhões de visitantes. O recorde anterior havia sido em 2015, com 307 milhões de visitantes. Os números ultrapassam em muito a população total brasileira: 202 milhões de pessoas.

Dados preliminares, que ainda não consideram os visitantes de dezembro de 2016, expressam a seguinte procura:
  • Grand Canyon: 5,9 milhões de visitantes.
  • Yellowstone: 4,3 milhões de visitantes.
  • Rocky Mountains: 4,5 milhões (já computa dezembro) 
  • Zion: 4,3 milhões de visitantes, quase o dobro da procura de 2010.

Os dados são do governo americano e mostram a importância que os parques têm para o cotidiano do povo americano, para o turismo e para a economia. Segundo algumas fontes, parques representam 3% do PIB daquele país.

Segundo o Serviço de Parques Nacionais, o motivo para o grande público foi uma campanha para atrair os visitantes em comemoração ao centenário do órgão. A campanha ofereceu entrada gratuita para estudantes e seus familiares. O baixo preço do combustível naquele país também contribuiu. É bom lembrar que o modelo dos parques americanos é para a visitação por automóveis. Os parques contam com extensas redes de estradas, estacionamentos e até postos de gasolina e outros serviços para os motoristas.

Mas, o texto também chama a atenção para a reflexão que se faz hoje sobre a capacidade de suporte dos parques para receber um número tão elevado de visitantes e para a qualidade da experiência dos visitantes, que vão ao parque na expectativa de ter uma experiência bucólica e natural e acabam encontrando uma "Disneylândia" ("Disneyland-like situation"). Muitos visitantes expressam frustração com o que encontram nos parques.

Eu mesmo, me surpreendi ao pegar engarrafamentos nos parques nacionais do Yellowstone e nas Montanhas Rochosas. Tudo bem que neste último parque o motivo foi uma manada de búfalos que decidiu deitar numa estrada (os visitantes são proibidos de buzinar ou fazer qualquer coisas que incomode a fauna. O jeito foi esperar a chegada dos guarda-parques). Mas, no Yellowstone, o motivo foi o excesso de automóveis mesmo.

A reflexão é importante para o Brasil, que até hoje não deu a devida importância para o potencial da sua rede de áreas protegidas no Brasil e no momento em que muitos municípios, como Niterói, assumem um maior protagonismo nas estratégias de conservação e de gerenciamento das suas áreas verdes.

Axel Grael
Secretário Executivo
Prefeitura de Niterói


How A Surge in Visitors Is Overwhelming America’s National Parks

Visitors wait to enter Yellowstone National Park in June 2017. Jacob W Frank/NPS

The growing crowds at U.S. National Parks have become unmanageable, jeopardizing the natural experience the parks were created to provide. With attendance this summer continuing to shatter records, officials are considering limiting use of the parks in order to save them.

By Jim Robbins • July 31, 2017

Zion National Park in southwestern Utah is the poster child for the crowding of America’s most hallowed natural places. With its soaring and magisterial red, dun, and white rock cliffs with grand names such as the Court of the Patriarchs and the Temple of Sinawava, Zion is at the top of the list of the nation’s most dramatic scenery.

It is also small as parks go, just under 150,000 acres and has only one main road, six miles long. Yet Zion gets as many visitors as Yellowstone, more than 4.3 million a year, even though Yellowstone is nearly fifteen times larger.

“In the last few years, this huge uptick in visitation has overwhelmed our infrastructure facilities, our trails, our backcountry, it goes on and on and on,” said John Marciano, a spokesman for Zion. “We can’t sit on our hands anymore. We have to come up with some kind of management plan to be able to preserve resources and to make sure our visitors have a good and safe experience.”

Saving a landscape as a national park is only part of the preservation battle – saving the spirit of these places is also essential. National parks are often thought of as America’s natural cathedrals – serene, contemplative places to visit and be restored by a connection to wild nature and grandeur.

Hikers wade through the Narrows, one of the most popular hikes in Zion National Park, in July 2017. Edna Winti/Flickr

That is impossible in the front country of Zion – and many other national parks – these days. Veteran park administrators are aghast at the “greenlock ” – gridlock in natural surroundings – in marquee national parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, and a host of other crown jewels.

Yellowstone, for example, has gone from 2 million visitors in 1980 to more than 4 million last year and is likely to climb higher. There were 2.3 million visitors to the Grand Canyon in 1980. In 2015, attendance broke the 5 million mark. A year later, it broke the 6 million barrier. Glacier, Yosemite, Great Smoky Mountains, Acadia, Rocky Mountain are all smashing records and are overwhelmed with humanity, losing the very thing they were created to provide – a sense of peak naturalness. Managers are concerned that this is the new normal and may get worse.

“Visitors are losing in this mix of 5 and 6 million people trying to cram into places that are busy when it’s 2 or 3 million,” said Joan Anzelmo, a retired Park Service superintendent who lives near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and is active as a volunteer in efforts to mitigate the impacts of visitation outside Grand Teton and Yellowstone. “These are irreplaceable resources. We have to protect them by putting some strategic limits on numbers, or there won’t be anything left. Nobody will want to visit them. Everyone I know who lives, works, and is involved in these issues says something has to be done, it can’t go on like this anymore.”

"This crowding of the parks comes at an uncertain time, as President Trump has proposed cutting the Park Service budget by 13 percent".

If these were not national parks, the solution would be to keep building more infrastructure. But the National Park Service has a dual mandate from Congress: to “provide for the enjoyment in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” Wider roads and more hotels and campgrounds would only create sprawl, diminish the experience of nature, and encourage yet more people to come.

This crowding comes at an uncertain time for the parks. President Trump has proposed cutting the Park Service budget by 13 percent (which would be the largest cut to the agency since World War II), and there is already a backlog of staffing and maintenance issues. And there is concern that the Trump Administration might move to make the parks even more friendly to commercial interests that would look bring in more visitors and more development.

The visitor crush is creating two main problems – a steep decline in the quality of visitor experience that a national park is supposed to provide, and damaging impacts on the ecology of these intact natural places.

Zion provides a microcosm of Park Service problems – and perhaps the beginning of a solution. Zion was one of the first parks to deal with the overwhelming crowds by closing the park to traffic and instituting a shuttle bus system in 2000. But the soaring attendance – since then the number of visitors has grown from 2.4 to 4.3 million – has swamped that effort.

The park now swarms with tens of thousands of people each day, and the season lasts almost all year, instead of 8 or 9 months as previously. Flocks of tour buses pour in from Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Instead of coming to get a sense of nature transcendent, people wait an hour or two in traffic just to get through the park gates, and day hikers jostle with hundreds of other people on one-lane trails eroded by overuse. Trash bins can’t be emptied fast enough and overflow onto the ground. Wild desert waterfalls at the end of a three- or four-mile trail feel less like a red rock cathedral and more like a crowded beach. Lines of vehicles to get a first-come, first-served camping spot start forming at 4:30 or 5 a.m., and many come away empty-handed. Amusement-park-style lines form to get on the shuttle and into restrooms.

In addition to a decline in visitor experience, there is an impact on park ecology. The legendary hike up the Virgin River Narrows, a red rock, steep-walled canyon, is the premier hike in the park. Now hundreds of people a day splash and wade their way up the riverbed into the half-light of the canyon.

All of these feet trample vegetation, aquatic insects, and fish habitat. And there are other problems. “Imagine how bad the human waste issue is in the Narrows when there’s swarms of people like that,” said Zion’s Marciano. “There’s only so many little private areas where you can peel off. Everyone goes in the same place. Human waste is not only a problem in the narrows, it’s everywhere in the front country.”

Ecological problems from the hordes of people abound in many parks. In Yellowstone, for example, a growing number of visitors are walking off boardwalks, making their own trails, throwing stuff into hot springs, or driving off roads and trampling fragile natural areas. Hundreds of people crowd wildlife along the roads, and some animals lose their fear of humans and need to be moved. Wildlife is also displaced by the numbers of people on the trails. And in many areas of the parks, the roar of traffic drowns out the subtle sounds of nature.

Why the boom in visits to national parks? Baby boomers are retiring in droves – every day 7,000 to 10,000 people turn 65 and travel is high on their list. The threat of terrorism in Europe has also kept many people in the United States, experts say.

A crowd waits to ascend the Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Brian Hughes/SummitPost.

Many point to unbridled promotion by states where the parks are located. At Zion, many people cite an international promotion by the Utah Office of Tourism called The Road to Mighty, an advertising campaign that urges a visit to the Mighty Five parks spread across southern Utah: Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, and Capitol Reef. The campaign shows people hiking, biking and driving through sculptural red rock formations, as soaring music plays. “It’s been wildly successful,” Vicki Varela, director of the Utah Office of Tourism told High Country News. “In Europe, the Mighty Five is now on everyone’s bucket list.”

And bucket lists elsewhere. It’s not uncommon to hear Japanese, Chinese, German, French, and other languages around the breakfast tables at the large new hotels built in rural Utah.

Social media too shoulders some of the blame for overcrowding. “People come to the park, take a crazy selfie with a beautiful backdrop, put it on social media, and then their 100 friends want to go there and do the same thing,” Marciano says. “It cascades.”

An irony not lost on many is the effort by the Utah congressional delegation to undo protection for public lands in the state. Both Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments are reviled by Sen. Orrin Hatch and others Utah Republican politicians, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is currently reviewing the status of these monuments to see if they can be rescinded or shrunk.

"At Zion, managers are considering requiring a reservation to get into the park and a reservation to go on some of the most prized hikes".

Many parks are designed to withstand and mitigate the impacts of large numbers of people, says Jeffrey Marion, a recreation ecologist at Virginia Tech, but at a certain point the crowds can no longer be managed. “When you bring people in by the busload, parks have few tools to deal with masses like that other than limiting use. You hate to see them do that, but I think it’s inevitable.”

Is that the answer? Zion is the first park to consider such a solution. Officials there are beginning a series of public meetings aimed at creating a new visitor use management plan. Two of the proposed solutions are requiring a reservation to get into the park and a reservation to go on some of the most prized hikes. A decision is expected in 2018.

Few like the idea, but experts say the time has come. “Parks have been commanded by the Congress to accommodate people and to preserve and protect these places,” said Marion. “It’s a huge management paradox.”

In the end, Marion says, “they have to limit use. We think these parks can handle an infinite number of people, and they can’t.”

Fonte: e360.Yale



Capacidade de Suporte

PRO-SUSTENTÁVEL: Prefeitura de Niterói está implantando a maior trilha da cidade no PARNIT
PARQUES DE NITERÓI: Desafios para unidades de conservação no contexto metropolitano
PARQUES, CULTURA E ECOTURISMO EM NITERÓI: Duna Grande, em Itaipu, terá passeios guiados em 2017

EDUCAÇÃO ATÉ EMBAIXO D'ÁGUA: grupo da UERJ propõe trilha subaquática em Niterói
TURISMO E LAZER EM NITERÓI: Parque da Cidade aberto até 19h
MAIS PROTEÇÃO AMBIENTAL EM NITERÓI: Lei torna ilhas oceânicas de Niterói parte de Parque Estadual
PARQUE ESTADUAL DA SERRA DA TIRIRICA: Enseada do Bananal com novas regras
NITERÓI MAIS VERDE: Obra do Parque das Águas, em Niterói, segue avançando
NITERÓI MAIS VERDE - Visita ao Morro do Castro, no Barreto, para planejar a implantação de áreas protegidas na Zona Norte da cidade
PARNIT: Parque da Cidade de Niterói tem trilhas revitalizadas com tótens e sinalização
Definido calendário de trilhas guiadas e voluntariado para o PARNIT

PARNIT - Oficinas participativas para o Plano de Manejo do Parque Natural Municipal de Niterói (Parnit)
DIA HISTÓRICO EM NITERÓI: Foi publicado hoje o Decreto 11.744, que instituiu o PARNIT
NITERÓI MAIS VERDE: Trilhas revitalizadas são opções para o turismo ecológico em Niterói

Importância das trilhas para a saúde humana

ESTUDO ESTIMA IMPACTOS DO PLANEJAMENTO URBANO NA SAÚDE: Benefícios da caminhada e da bicicleta superam malefícios da poluição do ar
PARQUES: Benefícios das trilhas para a saúde

Outras postagens

PARQUES - Pequenas áreas verdes são importantes, mas cidades precisam de grandes parques
GESTÃO DE ÁREAS PROTEGIDAS - Organizações sociais vão poder atuar na gestão ambiental dos parques estaduais, decide Alerj

FISCALIZAÇÃO AMBIENTAL: Ação apreende mais de uma tonelada de pescado em Niterói
CRISE DO RJ E PARQUES: Unidades de conservação sofrem com a falta de verba
PROGRAMA “VEM PASSARINHAR”: Parque Estadual da Ilha Grande realiza caminhada de observação de pássaros
PARQUES: Espanha lança Plano Diretor da sua rede de parques nacionais
NASCENTES DE NITERÓI: Projeto vai catalogar as águas escondidas de Niterói
NITERÓI CONTRA QUEIMADAS: Defesa Civil de Niterói forma mais uma turma de voluntários contra queimadas
MMA lança publicações dirigidas a Unidades de Conservação

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