Impacts of tourism on threatened plant taxa and communities in Australia


  • Caroline L. Kelly,

  • Catherine M. Pickering,

  • Ralf C. Buckley

  • This paper is based on research by Caroline Kelly, Catherine Pickering and Ralf Buckley from the School of Environmental and Applied Sciences, Griffith University (PMB 50, Gold Coast Mail Centre, QLD 9726, Australia. Tel. +61-7-5552 8257. Email: The project is part of the Environment Program of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism. It highlights the importance of research into direct and indirect environmental impacts of tourism on natural systems.


Summary Many Australian plant species and communities appear to be threatened by tourism. A review of management plans, recovery plans and a survey of experts found that tourism was considered to be a direct or indirect threatening process for 72 plant taxa. This is one fifth of threatened species for which threats have been identified. In addition, many more species are listed as threatened by weeds, trampling, pathogens, clearing and collecting. These are often indirect impacts of tourism, particularly in conservation reserves where tourism is the only commercial activity permitted. Tourism was also considered to be a threatening process for several plant communities. A lack of recognition of the importance of direct and indirect impacts of tourism may potentially hinder the conservation of plant species and communities both in Australia and overseas. It may also limit the effectiveness of sustainable tourism policies, particularly in conservation reserves.