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Top 3 Effects of Recreation on the Environment

written by: Marina Hanes•edited by: Sarah Malburg•updated: 3/28/2010

The effects of recreation on our environment are numerous. Sports as well as outdoor activities can significantly alter the Earth's natural surroundings and cause disruption to wildlife. In particular, there are three common ways that recreational activities affect the environment.

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    How Can Outdoor Recreation Activities Not Be Eco-friendly?

    Photo courtesy of Stock.xchng. 

    It's important for humanity to have a relationship with nature, and sports or other outdoor activities can provide a way for people to interact with their environmental surroundings. However, these same recreational activities can cause disruption to natural ecosystems and green spaces. There are three common ways that sports and outdoor activities effect the environment in a negative way.

    First, green spaces are compromised for recreational purposes. In order for there to be 18-hole golf courses, the land must be stripped of its natural elements in order to provide the perfect fairway. Also, cement needs to be put down for basketball or tennis courts, which doesn't leave room for plants and trees.

    Second, the biodiversity and ecosystems can be disrupted. For example, water crafts have destroyed parts of coral reefs and have even been responsible for the deaths of sea animals such as manatees. In addition, off-road vehicles can disturb wildlife and erode the soil.

    Third, individuals engaging in recreational activities can cause pollution. Sporting events and camping outdoors can be enjoyable, but people can cause air, soil and groundwater pollution. Litter. as well as gas emissions and oil leaks can compromise wildlife.

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    More Negative Effects

    When you look deeper into the effects of recreation on the environment, you will find that the impacts are even more specific. These activities cause noise and light pollution, consumption of natural and non-renewable resources, greenhouse gas emissions and depletion of the ozone layer. However, there are efforts being made to combat pollution so that areas dedicated to recreation continue to be places that people want to go to play sports or go camping.

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    How Can Recreation Be More Green?

    There are some recreation activities that are greener than others, so if you're going to try and relish the great outdoors, there are better choices you can make. Instead of working against nature, it's more effective if you work with it, so below are some ways in which you can do this.

    • Take a hike in the woods or through an existing park.
    • Go horsebacking riding instead of driving through a park area.
    • Garden in your backyard and incorporate more trees and plants into your landscaping.
    • Take time to watch and appreciate the birds and local wildlife.

    When it comes to sports such as basketball and soccer, there are ways in which you can go green on an individual and team level. As long as you make the effort and try to be more eco-friendly and responsible, recreation can have less of a negative effect on the environment.

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    References

    • Effects of Recreation on the Environment - http://www.bluffton.edu/~capstone/2005-06/Fall/LAS400-1/environment/Environment_files/frame.htm
    • David N. Cole: Environmental Impacts of Outdoor Recreation in Wildlands - www.leopold.wilderness.net/research/fprojects/docs12/ISSRMChapter.pdf
    • UNEP: Impact of Sport on the Environment - http://www.unep.org/sport_env/general_information/impact_sport.asp
    • Outdoor Recreation Research - http://www4.ncsu.edu/~leung/recres1.html

Environmental Effects of Recreation and What is Being Done

The games we love can affect the environment. Find out how, what is being done in sports and recreation and how you can make a personal change.
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