Interesting Research on Nature Based Tourism

A new research article from PLoS (Public Library of Science) in the US has concluded that visits to Protected Areas is on the increase in 15 of 20 countries studied. The main exceptions are the US and Japan.

Growth in visits to protected areas is put forward as an argument for increased spending on and general public interest in nature conservation. The authors point out that nature-based tourism has the potential to generate funds for nature conservation effort and to shape people’s attitude towards the natural environment.

The perceived concern about a growing disconnect between people in wealthier nations (e.g. the US and Japan) and their natural environment needs to be further researched, according to the authors. Increasing urbanisation and the trend towards sedentary forms of entertainment, such as video games and tv, are blamed for a decrease in ‘getting out’ into nature.

Nevertheless, it is good to see that such visits are not on the decrease in many countries.

Click here for the full article.

Authors : A Balmford, J Beresford, J Green, R Naidoo, M Walpole, A Manica.

Benefits of Interacting with Nature

Some folks from the University of Michigan carried out interesting research into the cognitive benefits of interacting with nature last year.

In it, the authors state that “Nature, which is filled with intriguing stimuli, modestly grabs attention in a bottom-up fashion”. I couldn’t agree more.

The authors carried out two experiments with students (who, interestingly, were recompensed), which “show that walking in nature or viewing pictures of nature can improve [certain] attention abilities.”

Interacting with environments rich with inherently fascinating stimuli (they give the example of sunsets), allows some attention mechanisms to replenish. After such an interaction with nature, one is able to perform better on tasks that depend on so-called directed-attention abilities.

Directed attention can (unscientifically) be explained as the ability to concentrate in the face of distractions.

In the first experiment, participants had their mood assessed. They were then randomly assigned to take a walk, either in a nearby arboretum or downtown area. The former was tree lined and secluded from traffic and people. The latter was on a traffic heavy street, lined with buildings.

Performance in the test was much improved among those who walked in nature, but not with those who walked in the urban area.The season in which students were tested had no impact. Researchers found that mood improved after walking in nature, compared to urban.

The second experiment showed pictures to students of nature and of urbania. Participants rated viewing those of nature as significantly more refreshing.

The researchers, in concluding, state that “these experiments demonstrate the restorative value of nature as a vehicle to improve cognitive functioning.” Indeed, they add that “To consider the availability of nature as merely an amenity fails to recognise the vital importance of nature in effective cognitive functioning.”

Can’t argue with that.

Maybe you should come for a walk with Tourism Pure, or just get out by yourself in some nice, quiet spot.

Shocking Research from Britain

Interesting stuff here. Travelodge, the well known British budget hotel chain, has carried out some research into British people’s attitude towards and knowledge of their countryside.

Some mind boggling results included :

53% thought there was nothing to do or see in Britain’s countryside.

10% could not identify a sheep.

83% could not identify a bluebell.

32% could not identify a pheasant.

The above from Travelmole.

I guess there is really no reason to believe the Irish would fare any better. Or is there ?

Tree Identification and Lore

Tree Identification and Lore

Tree Identification and Lore

I am currently in the process of developing a multi-evening course, entitled “Tree Identification and Lore”.

The course, which will be run in the West of Ireland, will concentrate on  showing how to identify Ireland’s native and main non-native trees, by studying leaves, bark, fruit, habitat, etc. It will be complemented by plenty of ‘treelore’, or tree related folklore.

Our native trees include Oak, Ash, Scots Pine, Yew and so on. The main non-natives of Sitka Spruce, Horse Chestnut, Sycamore, etc., will be discussed also.

Sounds great already, don’t you think ? My aim is to roll it out during March and maybe for eight weeks, to include at least one evening spent out in the woods. I’ll be holding it in MO, RN or G.

Register your interest right now, by emailing me on info at tourismpure dot com. I will be trying to locate it according to where attendees are from. Alternatively, just reply here by posting a comment.

Catwalk for Blackberries

I was sitting at the table, sipping a cup of tea yesterday, when this big black cat, with white paws, walked across the back garden.

In our place, we’re blessed with a natural ditch that forms one of our garden boundaries. The cat proceeded to jump up from the garden onto the ditch, then pause. After looking around, he stood up on his hind legs and pulled a blackberry off the bush. He repeated the trick and then did it for a third time. Having yanked three berries from their briars, he headed off, presumably satisfied.

Has anybody ever witnessed this by a cat ?