Kyle Hilsendager – PhD Research
University of British Columbia – Faculty of Forestry
In many places the forestry industry is the target of criticism from environmental groups, politicians and the media. This opposition generally relates to a range of environmental issues that are associated with the industry such as, the harvesting of old growth or ecologically significant forests, development of logging roads, threats posed to wildlife and the sustainability of harvesting practices. These types of issues can lead to negative perceptions, which may ultimately impact the forest industry.
Not only do these issues have the potential to negatively affect forestry, but it could also have negative effects for other sectors that profit from forested landscapes, such as tourism. This is particularly true for regions that promote natural landscapes and outdoor activities to attract business to local communities. Examples of countries that use that use these types of images to promote tourism include Canada and Australia. This can be seen in marketing campaigns such as ‘Supernatural British Columbia’ and ‘Pure Tasmania’. It is likely that destinations that promote natural features are particularly vulnerable to the negative perceptions often associated with forest industry impacts. Therefore this research aims to understand the effect that forestry can have on tourism image in destinations that market the natural environment.
Conflict between the tourism and forestry industries is a common issue in parts of the world where these two sectors contribute to regional economies. However, certain aspects of these types of conflicts can differ from region to region. Therefore, this investigation was conducted using a comparative case study method to help gain a better perspective of the issue. Two regions where conflict between these two industries is evident include Vancouver Island, Canada and Tasmania, Australia. Therefore, these two locations were identified as suitable settings for this research.
To help understand the type of impact that forestry can have on tourism image in destinations that market the natural environment a number of self administered questionnaires were distributed at three tourist attractions in each of the two study regions. The three types of attractions included in this investigation include back-country hiking areas, front-country visitor centers and fishing lodges. The actual sites where data collection took place are shown in Table 1.
Table 1. Vancouver Island and Tasmania Data Collection Sites
|Back-country hiking||West Coast Trail||Overland Track|
|Front-country visitor center||Pacific Rim Visitor Center||Cradle Mountain Visitor Center|
|Fishing lodges||Winter Harbour Fishing Lodges||Central Highlands Fishing Lodges|