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A GIS for walking route management

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  • F810 Environmental Geography
  • K422 Rural Planning
  • N222 Recreation/Leisure Management
  • Ecology
  • Geography


The project explores methodologies available for environmental quality and landscape character assessment to managers of long-distance walking routes in Ireland. GIS and field surveys are utilised throughout. There is no existing surveying methodology of this type in Ireland, and this presents the opportunity to develop such a scheme. The Waymarked Ways are a network of walking routes. They are managed locally, often by voluntary groups, overseen by the National Waymarked Ways Advisory Committee (part of the Irish Sports Council). The paper discusses ongoing work the Burren Way. Studies on user activity, route access and landscape character develop a profile of users and examine environmental conditions in the catchment of this route. This information can be used in future to aid monitoring and management. Specifically, it will aid the identification of vulnerable and robust areas in the route catchment, and those that are attractive to users. A questionnaire study of users profiled respondents’ age, mode of travel, and accommodation (if holidaying locally). It then examined attitudes to the local environment and conditions on the trail. Electronic counters on the route recorded 673 and 857 passers-by at two locations, in August and September 2003. User activity was concentrated weekends and afternoons, with higher numbers in August. Data from the landscape character survey of the catchment is used to examine user preferences and attitudes. Results suggest that users access the trail by car, driving from a start point within County Clare. Parking is therefore of importance in identifying where walkers’ activity is concentrated.

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