Technical Report 7

Nature-based tourism in forests as a tool for rural development – Analysis of three study areas in North Karelia (Finland), Scotland and the Catalan Pyrenees

Mònica Bori-Sanz and Anssi Niskanen
Internal Report 7
European Forest Institute, Joensuu, Finland, 2002
46 p.

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The role of forests in nature tourism is becoming increasingly important. The aim of this report is to assess the role that nature, and particularly forests, play in tourism and recreation, and also to illustrate the potential contribution of nature-based tourism in forests to rural development in the European context. For this purpose, three European areas were selected: Koli National Park in North Karelia, Cadí Moixeró Natural Park in the Catalan Pyrenees and the Cairngorms area in Scotland. Tourism was previously assumed to be a significant activity and forest cover was also considerable in these sites. In order to obtain the data, forty-one structured qualitative questionnaires were completed by the representatives of various organisations involved in forest tourism and recreation, such as tourist and forest organisations, research institutes, government authorities and NGOs in each area.

Forests are seen to have a significant role for tourism, although it cannot be measured quantitatively, and other elements and structures apart from forests are also essential. Nonetheless, the results suggest that well-managed and organised tourism in forested rural areas can obviously enhance the economic, environmental and social development. However, there is a need for a holistic approach to nature tourism, consideration of regional conditions, participation and collaboration of the various stakeholders, education, capacity building, public intervention and entrepreneurial encouragement in tourism.

Keywords: forest tourism, recreation, rural development, qualitative questionnaires