Regulation of overcrowding in 9 municipalities

CALENDAR:

START: NOVEMBER 2021

FINAL: APRIL 2021

GOALS:

  1. Apply the Systematized Model of analysis and management of public use for the management of overcrowding in gorges in the Girona region.
  2. Analyze the pressures received by river natural spaces that suffer from overcrowding from an environmental and communicative perspective to determine management actions to maintain their state of conservation and even improve it.
  3. Encourage citizen participation in the management of the natural spaces of the Girona counties as an essential part of generating territorial consensus and getting people in the immediate area to support the actions of space management.
  4. Extract specific management proposals that minimize the pressures that affect these natural spaces in each of the participating municipalities.

FINANCERS:

  1. Diputació de Girona

SUMMARY:

Overcrowding in some natural areas of Catalonia is a growing problem, especially in gorges. Due to the lack of regulation, users have been visiting these spaces over time without any specific recreational use regulations or a public use management model that takes into account the environmental perspective. This has a high impact on natural spaces with their consequent effect on biodiversity and the environment, as well as social conflicts due to the discomfort of the inhabitants of these municipalities who are not prepared for this overcrowding.

Some of these areas contain habitats of priority interest and protected species of fauna and flora, and the impact of the lack of regulation at the ecosystem level (waste, noise pollution, erosion, water eutrophication, invasive species ...) causes a displacement or disappearance of the most fragile species and consequently a loss of richness and biodiversity.

In addition, the globalization and dissemination of information on images and locations of these natural spaces on the Internet and social networks makes this problem more likely to increase. The ecosystem of digital media and the transition from receiving users to content creators makes what is published on the web unpredictable, with an increase in content to visit that users add to their bucketlist of essential spaces in be visited, where natural spaces have a high appeal due to their unique landscape.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in the summer of 2020 there was a much higher overcrowding of these spaces, as a large part of the population has avoided international tourism and has opted for inland tourism. Some of the natural spaces in Catalonia doubled and tripled the number of visiting users compared to the summer seasons of previous years. This fact has further increased the problems mentioned above, leading some municipalities to want to take active management of the situation.

Recently, in some of the affected municipalities, regulations for the use and access to the natural environment have been implemented in order to alleviate this situation.

To unify and systematize the diagnosis and action planning, a public use management model was created that we are currently applying to 9 municipalities that have overcrowded river areas:

  • Canet d'Adri
  • Camprodon
  • Vidrà
  • Sant Feliu de Pallerols
  • Sant Martí de Llémena
  • Santa Pau
  • Sant Llorenç de la Muga
  • Riudaura
  • Vall de Bianya

 

DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES

  1. Environmental diagnosis: Environmental diagnosis identifies the state of conservation of the space in terms of components that are representative of biodiversity and fundamental ecological processes and, secondly, determines its degree of vulnerability.

  2. Communicative diagnosis: The communicative diagnosis includes a description of the exposure of the spaces on the network (uncontrolled communication) and an analysis of the communication made by the managing body or the councils responsible for the ENP (controlled communication).

  3. Participatory process: Participatory process is essential to generate consensus with the immediate territory of the natural space when managing overcrowding, and also to take into account the reality of the most affected people in the immediate environment. It consists of 7 phases that consist of several meetings: institutional, with the affected neighbors, with the population, with experts of the territory, of evaluation of the viability of the proposals, of return to the affected neighbors and of return to the society in general.

  4. Calculation of the load capacity: Through the factors that come out of the environmental diagnosis, communication and the participatory process, a formula is applied that will allow to know the load capacity that the space has to maintain its state of conservation and, even improve it.

  5. Action planning: based on the results of the previous steps, some planning actions are determined linked to the pressures that are to be minimized or eradicated in order to finally implement them in the overcrowded space.