RECREATIONAL CAPITAL AND ACCESSIBILITY TO NATURE Per Åke Nilsson Center for regional og turismeforskning Nexø, Danmark - PDF

RECREATIONAL CAPITAL AND ACCESSIBILITY TO NATURE Per Åke Nilsson Center for regional og turismeforskning Nexø, Danmark INTRODUCTION This article elucidates the accessibility, regardless of ownership, to

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RECREATIONAL CAPITAL AND ACCESSIBILITY TO NATURE Per Åke Nilsson Center for regional og turismeforskning Nexø, Danmark INTRODUCTION This article elucidates the accessibility, regardless of ownership, to nature based recreational capital. Pressure from those trying to get this accessibility creates different channels for getting the benefit of the nature based capital, channels not always possible to control publicly. The law of general access to nature gives people in the Scandinavian countries an open channel into nature while other channels are more hidden since they are managed by more or less open organisations, especially concerning fishing and hunting. The state has also opportunities to set the agenda for use of areas for recreation. Common man often finds that he has not very great impact on this agenda if he/she not is living in the recreational areas. BACKGROUND The concept of nature Nature as an arena for recreation can be looked upon from different points of departure and from different perceptions of values (Mormont 1987; Patmore 1983; Olwig 1985; Urry1990; Gustafsson 1991; Hägerstrand 1991; Wilson 1992; Aldskogius1994; Widgren 1994; Sporrong et al 1995; Wiklund 1995; Peil 1999; Ingold 2000; Amcoff 2000; Stenbacka 2001; Nilsson 2003; Fink 2003) Some people see the untouched and wild nature as the real nature. In the days of climate change warnings, nature as something untouched may sound absurd and there are obviously few places on earth, if any, that are really untouched by human beings or by activities undertaken by humans. Wild nature is also very rare and can be seen as so only if the definition is nature which is not systematically cultivated or used by humans. If such areas exist, it is mostly likely to expect them to be nature reserves, publicly controlled. In opposition to the notion that nature is wilderness, others see the rural and green landscape in general as nature. Nature can also be seen as the base for studies of natural science but also as a metaphor for what is contrary to heaven or to other celestial objects. Fink (2003) argues that when we discuss nature or confront us with nature in one or other aspect, we must see it as something comprehensive. It is not only a geographical area, which we can regard from outside. We are always part of it, it is our property or concern and it is at the end of the day politics. Arler (2003) presents three different forms of a democratic approach to nature. First, he presents a system that places as many decisions over use of nature as possible on the individual. The rest is a matter for the market. If you want access, buy it. Second, he presents a system where the decision process is a competition between politicians and ideologies. Since all are in favour of environmental protection, the struggle will not be over arguments but over persuasions. The third is a question of equality, not money or influence. The politicians make a preference list where the sum of individual benefit and environmental protection will determine the ranking. It will not be a matter of buying or persuasion but of wishes. The concept of capital Marx gave the word Kapital a prominent place within the semantics of economics. For him, the word was the hub of economies while political and social concepts were the spokes. Later on, the word has undergone some paradigm shifts and today we talk of capital as a discourse. A lot of different forms of capital have developed from the original meaning of the word: the interplay between work and monetary capital. The concept of real capital for example puts the value of the interplay in machinery and buildings while the concept human capital puts the value into the human body, either in brain or in corporal skill (Johnsen 1960). The latter was a paradigm shift since it made it visible that capital, in contrary to the opinion of Marx, can move with the worker and is not always anchored in the working place or entrepreneur. Social capital deviates, like human capital, from the interplay between work and monetary capital, by defining it as something intangible or virtual as a means of interplay between human beings without directly visible monetary flows. The owner of the social capital is the organisation, village or network. The individual can only use it, not own it (Lin 2001). All these forms of capital are based on a rational apprehension of the concept. This is criticised by Coleman (1994). He looks at capital as a catalytic product, which facilitates the production without being consumed. The catalytic character of the capital is influenced by cultural implications in the production process and does by that not always follow the norms of the so called economic man. If we implement concepts of economic capital on recreational values, a way to put figures on recreational capital the value of recreational benefits embedded in a physical object is often to consider an expected sale value of a house or a house ground based on the demand for that special house or ground or the region it is located in. The monetary figure is then used as a basis for the taxable fortune of the owner. Social capital applied on the same house or house ground is instead based on the character of the neighbours, not on the physical character of the area. None of these forms of capital cover the nature and value of recreational experience. Coleman s definition comes closer to the understanding of the value of experience by stating that it is not always rational. Recreation as an experience is normally based on a physical capital with an inherent material value, which normally has no impact of the nature of the experience. It is the immaterial value, embedded in the physical capital that matters. An estimation of the value of recreative capital has as a point of departure the individual s subjective values in each special case. That means that the recreative value of a place corresponds to the amount of individuals visiting the place for experience. Urry talks of a collective gaze with reference to an Alpine mountain, where as a material good the mountain can be viewed for its grandeur, beauty...[and t]here is almost no limit to this good. No matter how many people are looking at the mountain it still retains these qualities. But this scenery, some people may want to enjoy in solitude, a romantic gaze. Urry states that this gaze emphasises solitude, privacy and personal, semi-spiritual relationship with the object of the gaze (Urry 1990; 2002 p 43).To consume recreative capital has no connection to ownership of the physical area that creates the experience. The accessibility to that place is the crucial issue. Something about people s expectations from nature A lot of surveys have been made with focus upon what people expect or value with nature. The Countryside Commission presented a huge survey in UK (1995), Skov og Landskab -Forest & Landscape Denmark has made several surveys of Danes attitudes to nature ( Koch & Søndergaard-Jensen1988; Søndergaard-Jensen 1998). The technique behind most of these surveys is more or less a top-ten-list where people can list their motives and attitudes. Kaae & Madsen 2003 use a more sophisticated survey design where the context of the respondents is mapped. Fredman & Heberlein 2003 use a big database TDB for visitors to the Swedish mountain region and make analysis out of the figures. The results of these investigations show that most people want an experience in nature or find peace and quietness. Many also find nature as a social room where you can strengthen social bonds and ties. Activities in nature are also important like picking berries, fishing, riding, exercising and so on. There small divergences between these findings. Criticism over the simplified nature of survey techniques was first forward by Macnaghten & Urry (1998) in a critical study of the UK Countryside Commission from The main objection to the method is the lack of alternatives for the respondents to weigh the pros and cons against each other. It is easy to say that you want to preserve the nature but if you are faced with attractive alternatives, like jobs or earnings, you may a bit more ambiguous. Klepp (1998) follows up in a study from Norway where she studies trekkers and walkers attitudes to nature is a function of the cultural landscape. She finds that for walkers on forest paths, use and protection are dependent on each other: without use no paths and without protection the paths will be destroyed. Lindberg et al.(1999) develop a choice modelling model where the interviewed are faced with benefits and restrictions inherent in the same question. Lindberg et al. (2001) go further by confronting both tourists and local residents with alternatives over the same question. The tourists have to choose between more lifts in Åre mountain resort in Sweden combined with a higher price for using the lifts. The local residents are confronted with more lifts and lower local taxes. To make it even more trustworthy, the authors discriminate between for example advanced and less advanced tourists and between for example tourist entrepreneurs and local residents with no interest in tourism business. This Contingent Valuation Model is further developed by Fredman (2005). This opens up for a discussion about special interests. Emmelin describes a triangle drama in three differently managed areas in he border region between middle Sweden and Norway. The drama is between the interests of the farmers, the nature preservers and common people (1996). Nilsson describes the same drama in the agrarian Denmark (2002). Sandell has his focus on conflicts between nature preservers and common people are visible (2000). Fredman (2000), Wall Renius (2006) and Nilsson (2006) use the notion of biosphere reserves. They try to find a mutuality between nature, tourism and local development. Agriculture, especially in Denmark and forestry especially in Sweden and Finland, have up to now been the actor able to set and control the agenda for use of the open landscape (Sandell 1999; Stenbacka 2001; Nilsson 2002). Today, several other actors are competing for that position, especially the tourism industry and organisations for fishing and hunting. The question is not if or when non-agrarian people are going to take control but how they will do it. Will it be in a democratic process with point of departure in a widened allemansrätt or will it be in a corporate way through organisations and lobbying? FINDINGS Examples of the dilemma between recreative capitalists and proletarians The findings are based on own previous research, presented as a report called Reflexioner om rekreativt capital: Fallet Gimdalen and on Sandell s report Ett reservatsdilemma on the evaluation of the attempt to establish a national park in the Kiruna region in northern Sweden and finally on reports on the establishment of national parks in Denmark from Skov og Naturstyrelsen. The three reports are supplemented with comments from other sources and are analysed compared to presented research findings in the background of this paper. The case of Gimdalen 1 Gimdalen is a village in Bräcke municipality, the county of Jämtland with 85 yearround inhabitants in The village has had a depopulation trend for decades. In the beginning of the 1990s, there were plans to develop a tourist project for a further survival of the village. The municpality owned a piece of land at the lake shore close to the village and a cooperative started to develop that area for tourism. The target group for the project was Scandinavians and Germans (Projektidéplan över Gimdalsnäset 1995). Due to the peripherality of the village, marketing and financing became severe problems for the project. Therefore, when a local contact man introduced a German investor, Erhard Zimmer, backed up by a German travel organisation, Der Part, the local cooperative was delighted. A local company Gimdalen Upplevelser och Äventyr (Gimdalen Experiences and Adventure) - was established with a 35 % national state financing together with the German consortium. The business idea was a holiday village - Country Club Gimdalen - with a guaranteed (by the German consortium) occupancy rate of 80 % during five months a year for five years. In addition to the publicly owned piece of land, 12 local land owners founded a company which should lease out land to Gimdalen Upplevelser och Äventyr. The management of the holiday village should be maintained by Gimdalen Upplevelser och Äventyr with local people employed, approximately persons or about every third inhabitant of Gimdalen. The project included hotel and service facilities and a number of cottages, owned by each local participating land-owner. The cottages were meant to have individual themes of traditional character in order to present local culture and nature. Each local owner should be responsible for the design of his cottage. A lot of activities for summer and winter were also planned. Finally, there was a decision that the whole establishment should be adapted to the surrounding nature. The idea was almost immediately faced with criticism and therefore it was decided to summon a general meeting in the village for information on the project. At that meeting a lot of criticism occurred, mostly blaming lack of information. Not all were critical to the project but some groups of landowners and commuters were very eloquent and vociferous. In1995, students from MidSweden University made interviews among the inhabitants about the Zimmer project, just before the general meeting (Nilsson 2003). Nine persons between 30 to 60 years of age were interviewed and there were both negative and positive meanings in the group. There was no connection between how long the respondents had lived in Gimdalen and the opinions or if they had roots in the village. The positive answers talked about the development of the village and saw the project as an almost unbelievable chance. The negative answers circled around three points of critics. The first was about the scale of the project. They found it too big for such a small village. There was no need for such a project. There was also concern over the wear of nature. The second was about locally anchoring of the project. There was a fear of jeopardising the local quality of life of the village. In order to avoid that, the project should be steered by locals, with locals and for locals. No outsider should be allowed to have any impact. The third was about the German impact on the village. It was bluntly expressed. One respondent said that Germans want to own and control everything. It was referred to deterrent examples of German behaviour from other places. The negative results of the interviews corresponded with letters to editors of the daily newspapers in the region after the general meeting. The first letter, which appeared in a 1 The case is based on the author s findings, published as a chapter in Maria Larsson (ed) Svensk turismforskning. Östersund: ETOUR newspaper, claimed that Gimdalen will do well without Germans (Länstidningen 25/3 1995). It was a person, employed by the municipality of Bräcke, who declared that he did not want any Disney Land or Mini Germany in Gimdalen. He also claimed that, according to his experiences as a traveller around the world, Germans are not popular anywhere. He also wrote that Scandinavians will certainly not come to Gimdalen if there are Germans there. The next negative letter was written by a person living in Gimdalen but with no roots there. He had moved to Gimdalen from Östersund in order to get peace and quietness. The headline for his letter was German establishment in Gimdalen frightens (Länstidningen 27/3 1995). He was a photographer and feared that people with a lot of money will invade the village and share their quietness, purity, and access to hunting and angling. He was also sure that the Germans will come in groups and not as individuals and that means that they bring their own culture there. He was convinced that this will sweep away any traces of the culture of the ancestors in Gimdalen. Two positive letters follow these negative ones. One is from a German, married to a woman from Gimdalen (Länstidningen 31/3 1995) and from an entrepreneur who looks forward to the benefits for Gimdalen that this project will create (Länstidningen 4/4 1995). After a month, some young people in the 20s write a letter where they state that it is not likely for them to get jobs in the project since these jobs will reserved for the Germans (Länstidningen 9/5 1995). After another zenophobic letter published in June (Länstidningen 15/5 1995), there were no more letters to the newspaper editor. The municipality stuck to its positive view on the project and that was also the case with most entrepreneurs in central Bräcke. The negative letters to the editor were all dealing with the negative impact of Germans while the positive ones dealt with the positive chances for the future of the village. The answer from Zimmer to the articles and the criticism came in an interview in the local newpaper where he announced that he intended to abandon the project (Länstidningen 27/9 1995). In the article, a person from the entrepreneurial board of Bräcke municipality was also interviewed for a comment on Zimmer s decision. She was very satisfied with the decision and stated that nobody should come to Gimdalen from outside as a so called saving angel. She was full of distrust for Zimmer. Zimmer was offered to establish in two other municipalities and he choose to invest in one, Strömsund municipality in the north of Jämtland. The local residents were thoroughly prepared and informed and the assembly was unanimous. Der Part, was however by understandable reasons, not interested any longer in Sweden. Eventually, Zimmer started his establishment in Järvsö, Hälsingland and he is now (2007) a summer house broker with office in Järvsö ( The case of the National Park in Kiruna 2 Naturvårdsverket the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency characterises the mountains of Kiruna as one of the most famous object in Sweden for nature protection and tourism. A lot of nature phenomenon find place there and no other area in Europe offers such a vast space monumental mountain massifs and unexploited nature of wilderness character and without roads. The region is a historical area for Saami reindeer herding with four Saami villages located there. Close to the region, the industrial mine and space town of Kiruna is located, a town north of the arctic circle with a lot of miners and people fond of the type of recreation offered by the mountain area, a desire obviously underpinned by the remote situation from the rest of the Swedish society (Naturvårdsverket 1989). 2 The case is mainly based on the findings of Klas Sandell in his Ett reservatsdilemma published by ETOUR, Östersund 2000. In 1986, Naturvårdsverket called for a meeting in Abisko on the establishment of a national park. The reasons for that were to protect and maintain the specific nature and culture of the area, to maintain the strong connection to tourism in the area, and give the opportunity to offer people from all Sweden to visit an area, preserved for recreation. In 1987, a new meeting was held in the presence of His Majesty the King and that meeting merely positive expectations of the project were expressed. The area was given the name The Kiruna National Park. The mayor of Kiruna had a positive if a road was built into the park to one of the Saami villages there. Not long after that, critical voices were heard. The main criticism was the top-down character of the project since it was launched by Naturvårdsverket. Resentment was also expressed over the many restrictions connected to the project from side of Naturvårdsverket. The miners union claimed th
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