June 26, 2014 – Forests, which make up about 30 percent of the planet's land area, are critical to the Earth’s health, cleaning the air and supporting many forms of life. In the U.S., parks, forests, and wilderness areas are also a recreation resource. China is taking steps to see its beautiful national forest parks, already popular with its own citizens, become destinations for international ecotourism.
“The challenge is to prevent these areas from being loved to death,” said Jeff Marion, adjunct professor of natural resource recreation in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation within Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. A recreation ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, he investigates the impacts of visitors and how to manage parks, forests, and wilderness for sustainability.
As a leader of the Leave No Trace initiative, Marion was contacted by a leading Chinese forestry scholar to share his expertise.
Marion is collaborating with Qinglin Huang, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Forestry’s Research Institute of Forest Resource Information Techniques in Beijing, to plan for recreation opportunities within China’s national forest parks. Huang, who studies the management and preservation of forest ecosystems, is doing funded research to develop methods to inventory and assess forest recreation resources and develop sustainable recreation opportunities. (continue reading........)