Nature areas are important for all sorts of ecological reasons but are especially attractive for tourists and recreationists to explore and experience. For the sustainable use of nature, reserves monitoring is of great importance, but it is especially important that the monitoring takes place over several years.
Supporting multi-year monitoring
This is one of the reasons why CELTH financially supported a three-year monitoring program for recreational boating in natural areas. After previous studies in 2016 and 2017, CELTH partly financed the last year of this three-year monitoring program. For CELTH it is also important that after the completion of the monitoring project the developed methodology could be applied to other regions/nature areas in the Netherlands and other universities of applied sciences and interested parties could possibly be involved in this project.
The Wadden as a test case
The test case in which this research takes place is the Wadden Sea. It is a vulnerable and important nature area that has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2009. Nevertheless, all kinds of activities by recreationists are taking place in this same area. The problem is that the behaviour of these recreational boaters is only known to a very limited extent and this raises many questions:
- Where does a recreational boater go?
- How do recreational boaters behave in relation to nature?
- Do they stick to rules in place?
A wide range of innovative methods is being tested in this area, including big data. Researchers with different backgrounds have united in the monitoring consortium (MOCO) and tried to connect social knowledge (tourism, recreation, geography, etc.) with ecological knowledge (seals, birds, etc.). On behalf of CELTH, ETFI is part of this consortium together with Sovon (National Bird Research), University of Groningen, Altenburg & Wymenga and Bureau De Karekiet. The merging of social and ecological research and their researchers provides in-depth insights into the relation between sailing recreation and nature.