Assessment of the potential impacts of coasteering on rocky intertidal habitats in Wales
Tyler-Walters, H. (2005) Assessment of the potential impacts of coasteering on rocky intertidal habitats in Wales. Technical Report. Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, Plymouth, (UK).
Full text available as:
DOI: Contract no. NWR012
Official URL: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/newsletters_reports/reports.htm
The relatively new recreational pursuit of coasteering, which has developed in the St David's area of Pembrokeshire, appears to be expanding rapidly. The majority of local commercial recreation providers (outdoor pursuit centers etc.) now appear to offer this pursuit. The majority of the rocky coastlines where it takes place lie within Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation (SAC), and are also Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). No assessment has yet been undertaken of coasteering's potential impact on the intertidal habitats. Therefore the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) commissioned the Marine Life Information Network (MarLIN) to undertake a desk study of the likely environmental effects of coasteering on rocky intertidal habitats within the Pembrokeshire marine SAC. The desk study was based on a review of the available literature, and in particular the effects of trampling on rocky intertidal communities. Communities (as biotopes) within the Pembrokeshire marine SAC likely to be exposed to coasteering activities were identified from Phase I biotope data for the area, provided by CCW. Where possible, existing research by MarLIN into the intolerance, recoverability and sensitivity of the biotopes identified, was used to identify their potential vulnerability to trampling. The literature review revealed that: - foliose canopy forming algae (e.g. fucoids) were particularly intolerant and sensitive to trampling impacts; - trampling damaged erect coralline turfs, barnacles, and resulted in an increase in bare space; in some cases paths across the shore were visible; - on brown algae dominated shores, understorey algae could suffer due to increased desiccation but algal turf species, opportunists and gastropod grazers (e.g. limpets) could increase in abundance as an indirect effect of trampling, and that - trampling impacts resulted from physical contact and wear and were dependant on the intensity, duration, and frequency of trampling, and even the type of footwear used. A total of 19 intolerant rocky intertidal biotopes were identified as potentially vulnerable to trampling and hence coasteering within the Pembrokeshire marine SAC, of which six are of Welsh importance and eight are nationally rare or scarce. Trampling is a highly localized impact and it was not possible to identify biotopes, and hence communities, actually impacted by coasteering activities in the Pembrokeshire marine SAC. In addition, the majority of the literature addresses the impacts of trampling on wave sheltered or moderately exposed brown algal dominated shores, while coasteering occurs on more wave exposed, steeply inclined shores. Therefore, direct survey of the routes used by coasteering groups within the Pembrokeshire marine SAC is required to identify the intensity, duration and frequency of trampling impact, together with the communities impacted. Given the paucity of data concerning trampling effects in the rocky intertidal in the UK, a survey of the impacts of coasteering would provide an opportunity to examine the effects of trampling and visitor use in steep rocky, wave exposed shores. The report recognizes the potential to engage coasteerers in contributing to the development of strategies for minimizing adverse impacts, recording impacts and collecting information of use in identifying climate change and the occurrence of non-native species.
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