Land management and outdoor recreation in the UK

Authored by: Lois Mansfield

Routledge International Handbook of Outdoor Studies

Print publication date:  November  2015
Online publication date:  November  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138782884
eBook ISBN: 9781315768465
Adobe ISBN: 9781317666523


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The relationship between outdoor recreationists and other land users in the United Kingdom has been, and continues to be, contentious. Why this exists in the UK is due to two main factors. First, is the influence of the historical development of land ownership patterns over the past ten centuries, where consequently now over half the land is owned by only 0.06 per cent of the population (Fairlie, 2009). Millions of outdoor recreationalists every year may unwittingly cross over land where private landlords guard their land rights closely. Second, practically every hectare 1 of land can be classified as multifunctional, the most obvious and predominant of which is combinations of primary food production and secondary outdoor recreation and nature conservation. This multifunctionality is fairly unusual globally: in North America and Australasia, for example, access to the outdoors is limited to areas deliberately set aside for recreational purposes or as wilderness for both biodiversity and recreation. This explains why National Parks in the UK are living, working landscapes, whereas in most other parts of the world National Parks are wilderness (e.g. Runte, 1987). That is to suggest landscapes are largely devoid of most forms of economic exploitation, which consume resources for profit.

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