|Physical alterations and habitats|
Construction related to tourism development (hotels, airports, roads, and vacation homes) causes the greatest negative impact to the fragile coastal and marine ecosystems around the world. Loss of biodiversity and landscape attractiveness already affects a number of tourist destinations throughout the Mediterranean. The projected growth of tourism in the years to come will continue to degrade these regions, as well as destroy what are now almost untouched areas. In Italy over 43% of the coastline is completely urbanised mainly linked to tourism development. In addition, there are only 6 stretches of coast over 20 km that have no development.
Picture courtesy of NOAA
As a major cause of the loss of natural habitat, tourism has a very direct negative impact on biodiversity, directly affecting rare and endangered species. Habitat destruction and alteration is one of the leading causes for the loss of biodiversity: In a recent survey, 57% of reefs in the Florida Keys showed propeller and grounding damage from boats.
Littoral habitats such as beaches, seagrasses meadows, coral reefs and mangroves are all particularly sensitive to habitat alterations associated with growth in the tourism industry. Seagrasses for example although relatively hardy, are plants susceptible to damage from excess siltation and turbidity, shading and water pollution typically associated with shoreline development. Mangrove forests are often considered of little value unless they are developed. This usually means clear cutting of the forest to replace it by some other form of use assumed to be of greater value. However, when developing mangrove forests, their natural value in combating natural hazards for example ? buffer against storm and/or tide surges ? are lost. These losses are often greater than the value of the activity for which they got substituted.
printed on 2013/05/21 15:28:34