Grasslands are particularly captivating for viewing game animals and for safari hunting. People are drawn to the large mammalian herbivores, as well as grassland birds, diverse plant life, and generally open-air landscapes.
Some recreationists count on grasslands for hiking and fishing. Others regard specific grassland sites as culturally and spiritually important. For example, religious, ceremonial, and historical sites have been preserved throughout the prairies of the United States.
Identifying and developing indicators to represent the status and condition of tourism and recreational goods and services provided by grasslands can be more subjective than quantitative. The level of enjoyment, or recreational satisfaction, obtained from grasslands does not lend itself to repeatable, objective evaluation. Although PAGE analysts did not resolve this difficulty, we identified some proxy measures that may lead to the development of more quantifiable indicators. In this section, we examine the number of tourists and amount of revenues from international tourism and safari hunting, and modification of grasslands to support tourism and recreation.
The following summarizes key findings of the PAGE study regarding the condition of grassland ecosystems, as well as the quality and availability of data.
Conditions and trends
- In many countries with extensive grassland and for which tourism data are available, the number of international tourists and the international inbound tourism receipts increased over the 10-year period from 1985-87 to 1995-97.
- The economic contribution of grasslands through recreation and tourism, especially safari tours and hunting, can be high. While providing revenues, grassland tourism also can lead to ecosystem degradation.
- Excessive human use and wildlife poaching could decrease the capacity of grasslands to maintain tourism services.
Information status and needs
- Data specific to revenues from grassland tourism are rare; we need more systematic collection and reporting of data on grassland tourism revenues.
- To adequately monitor the use and effects of tourism and recreation on grassland ecosystems, we need to systematically collect data on multiple aspects of human use of grassland parks and reserves.
Quality and availability of data
|PAGE measures and indicators||Data sources and comments|
|Tourist numbers and tourism receipts||Annual country-level data compiled by the World Tourism Organization (WTO) and presented by the World Bank (1999).|
|Safari hunting and animal trophies||Data published by IUCN-World Conservation Union for selected African countries and variable time periods (Leader-Williams et al. 1996).|
|Wildlife exploitation index||Measure of wildlife exploitation in North America combining data on effects of hunting and poaching, unsustainable extraction of wildlife as commercial products, and harassment and displacement of wildlife by commercial and recreational users, published by WWF (Ricketts 1997).|