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Outdoor Economy

How does Outdoor Recreation Inspire Scientific Discovery and Innovation?

 

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Did Ben Franklin discover Kite-boarding?

“When Ben Franklin was 9, his eldest brother was lost at sea, still Ben never lost his love for the water.

On a pleasant day, while young Ben was flying a kite, he decided to go for a swim.  Still wanting to fly his kite but reluctant to leave the water, it occurred to him he need not forgo one diversion for the other.  While in the water he let the kite pull him across the pond without the least fatigue and the greatest pleasure imaginable!”

(“Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv)

Could this event have led Ben Franklin to discover electricity and kite boarding!?

Ben Franklin did spend a lot of time playing outside as a child and was insatiably curious about what he encountered. Franklin’s curiosity would later inspire him to write theories about electricity, weather, ocean currents, and other discoveries that influenced many of the innovators who would follow.

Many scientists and inventors that have led to the technology and inventions we take for granted today have been inspired by their time recreating outside and observing nature.  Nikola Tesla was known to take long walks and spend time at the park contemplating his many theories.  Much of the modern wireless technology was developed from his ideas. 

How does Outdoor Recreation in natural areas inspire innovation?

Outdoor recreation in natural areas has been shown to improve mental and physical well-being.  According to a number of studies conducted over the last 25 years, unstructured physical activity in the outdoors inspires natural curiosity, improves social and emotional development, enhances perception and motor skills, builds creativity, encourages self-expression, and develops appreciation for the environment.

In a Janaury 2005 Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, Burdette and Whitaker show that free play outdoors promotes problem solving and decision making, which is one of the highest executive functions.  Several small studies along with surveys of parents and teachers have shown that free play also reduces attention deficit disorder and improves focus.

Our experiences shape the way we view the world.

Children that play outside see themselves as part of a larger ecosystem and are exposed to natural laws. Children that spend time in the natural world are less fearful of it.

Many people in the developed world spend most of their time disconnected from the outside world.  From their home, to the car, to school or the office and back, people do everything they can to keep a barrier between them and nature.  The average American child spends less than 30 minutes in outdoor unstructured play.  Studies have shown that the sedentary, plugged in lifestyle may be responsible for the 200% rise in obesity and trepidation in the outdoors. A 2009 study showed that 62% of children surveyed in developed countries had a fear of natural events such as snow, thunder, and rain.  Inventors like Franklin and Tesla embraced natural events as opportunities to gain a better understanding of the world.

Outdoor Recreation is exercise for your brain.

Physical activity in natural areas has also been shown to increase attentiveness and greatly improve the brains ability to learn and retain information. Physical activity causes the brain to function more efficiently through a process called neurogenesis, where new brain cells are produced stimulating BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor), which has been nicknamed “fertilizer for the brain”.

“Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning” according to Harvard Medical School psychiatrist John Ratey, author of the book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.  Some of the highest performing schools in math and science in the world are incorporating physical activity as part of the curriculum. “Exercise and the Brain” has been the focus of several courses led by Wendy Suzuki, associate professor of neuroscience at New York University.

Outdoor recreation is not just Childsplay.

Canadian researchers found that physical activity greatly improved the cognitive function and physical well-being of elderly adults analyzed over two to five years in a 2011 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

An understanding of nature is being encouraged by many businesses.  Companies such as IBM, GE, Boeing, Airbus, Nike, Levi’s, Johnson & Johnson and others are now encouraging their engineers to spend time observing nature in order to design the products of the future. The study of natural systems has led to incredible nature inspired innovations on desalinating water, architectural design, powerful adhesives, medicines, aviation design, and extremely strong and lightweight materials.

 

766px-Kitesurfer_in_closeup_exmouth_devon_arpOutdoor recreation has also been shown to reduce employee stress and stress related absences causing an increase in productivity and morale in the work place.

“Let My People Go Surfing” was the attitude and book title of Yvon Choinand, CEO of Patagonia. He attributes Patagonia’s increase in sales from $20 million to $100 million from the mid 1980s to 1990 to the culture of happy, motivated people that worked for the company and often went recreating outdoors during lunch breaks and weekends.

Whether raising a child, improving grades, stimulating a business, or developing the next genius, breakthrough invention, it might be time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors!

Massive Opportunity for Conservation and Business, Will They Miss it?

 

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There are major opportunities in the outdoor economy that have often been overlooked.

The disconnect between conservation and economic growth comes as a result of misunderstandings and misrepresentations of social and political groups that are either focused on protecting the environment or on building the economy. The truth of the matter is that
there is opportunity for both economic growth and conservation. This becomes clear when one does a proper analysis of the situation and removes all political biases. In fact, you cannot have one without the other. Ecological sustainability will never be achieved through a focus on environment and biodiversity alone.
Social and economic values and needs must become an integral concern of nature conservation management (TNSW p5).
Well managed natural resources have tremendous benefits to human health and quality of life as well as economic, education, and scientific advancement. This is a theme throughout this website and multiple reports.

The business sector does itself a disservice to try to demonize the conservation community as standing in the way of economic progress. Clean water, clean air, and attractive natural beauty are huge drivers of economic growth and social well-being. Denial that there is any need for conservation will only harm the economy in the future.
Entrepreneurs and conservationists who work together in a purposeful, ethical way using common sense can achieve great social and economic progress that is sustainable and beneficial to the people and the planet.

The Power of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism

Many conservation organizations see tourism as one of the sectors with the greatest potential for linking conservation to economic development. ( IUCN-Kouni Group) Tourism is the largest industry in the world and growing fast. “For wealthy westerners, travel is now an addiction” (The Economist).
Tourism generates over $2 trillion in spending, $730 billion in earnings and 6.5 million full-time jobs while growing 4-5% annually regardless of war, disease, or terrorism. ( Needham, RRMP at OSU).

Tourism can also be harmful. Mass Tourism can lead to overcrowding, congestion, and overuse causing pollution, waste and degradation of natural resources.

On the other hand,
carefully developed sustainable tourism and eco-tourism can empower local people while providing financial and conservation benefits. In fact, the outdoor recreation industry can provide much greater employment and economic opportunities to a community and have a much lighter impact on local environments than industries that focus on extraction of natural resources. Employment related to recreational activities can exceed employment related to resource exploitation by more than 5 times (Kuenzi and McNeely) . Wildlife related recreation (fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing) on National Forest lands provide a significant benefit to state and regional economies throughout the nation. In 1996, wildlife related recreation created 238,800 full time jobs and generated $21million in state sales and income taxes (USFW).
In 2012, outdoor recreation contributed $646 billion in consumer spending to the US economy and more than $39.7 billion in tax revenue while creating 6.1 million American jobs(OIA 2012). Outdoor recreation contributes nearly twice the positive economic impact than the automotive, pharmaceutical and oil industries.

How to build a sustainable outdoor recreation industry

In order to build a successful outdoor industry there must be a focus on customer satisfaction as well as environmental conservation
. “Satisfied customers are believed to affect the long-term viability of the organization in the competitive business environment and also for enhancing experience of visitors with attraction.” (IJMMR, Vol. 4, No. 1) The integrity of the facilities and natural resources are crucial to customer satisfaction. The Association of British Travel Agents found that
one in three travelers now believe that vacation products should have an environmental rating. ABTA’s study also showed that 19% of these travelers were willing to pay more for it.
Nature-based businesses are dependent on clean water and untrammeled natural landscapes(CNBT-BC).

Customer service, empathy, and local knowledge are also extremely important
. Training is a key factor to the success of any organization and staff must be provided with proper training in terms of communicating with guests (IJMMR, Vol. 4, No. 1).
Enhancing quality of interpretation at visitor centers, attractions, and on tours is a major opportunity area for nature tourism. People learn better when they are using as many senses as appropriate. It is generally recognized that people retain 10% of what they hear, 30% of what they read, 50% of what they see, and 90% of what they do (TNSW p5).

Most of all, building a sustainable economy that will have long-term benefits for the people and the environment requires the cooperation and teamwork of the entire community. Every nature reserve needs a management plan and a dedicated community of volunteers to care for it.

People want to live healthy, vibrant lives in an area where they can enjoy themselves in the outdoors. This can be achieved through cooperation between both the business and conservation community.

Other Related Articles:

http://adventureblog.nationalgeographic.com/2013/05/29/guides-are-portals-to-the-outdoor-world-lets-give-them-the-support-they-need/#%21

http://adventureblog.nationalgeographic.com/author/averystonich/

http://www.wengerna.com/blog/outdoor-recreation-americas-overlooked-economic-giant/

Resources for Outdoor Entrepreneurs

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When an outdoor entrepreneur sets out to build an outdoor recreation venture, they find that there are a number of resources to learn from.  A number of organizations through out the United States and beyond have been formed in order to help the outdoor recreation industry grow and to set standards for risk management and best practices.  One such group is The Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals (SORP).

SORP is a membership organization with a mission to promote, advance, and serve outdoor recreation professionals in research, planning, management, and policy development.

SORP offers members a variety of benefits such as professional development, networking, recognition, scholarships, news, technical resources,  and an annual conference.

 

According to the 5 year Strategic plan, the SORP has identified a number of ambitious goals for:

  • Communications and Marketing
  • Professional Development and Education
  • Financial Strategy
  • Strategic Partnerships
  • Operationslearn more about SORP on their webpage at http://www.recpro.org/

 

 

 

 

The Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism (ESTC) Conference 2013 in Nairobi Kenya

 

The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) is the most well known and respected organization in the ecotourism industry.
TIES describes itself as “a non-profit association committed to promoting responsible tourism practices that benefit conservation and communities.”
There are over 500 organizations that are members of TIES in this global network that reach over 120 countries.
TIES is a global community  with over 1,200 members from professionals  and organizations spanning over 120 countries.
TIES and its members are dedicated to  promoting the principles of ecotourism   defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” (TIES, 1990)
Every year TIES organizes the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) as a networking and educational event to help stake holders share ideas and form collaborations in order to advance the sustainability goals for the tourism industry.
I was delighted to attend the 2011 ESTC conference in Hilton Head South Carolina near where I live. The number of contacts and educational presentations were well worth the visit.
The local “Gullah” people of Hilton Head island are still talking about how great it was to have the ESTC conference in their home town.  One Gullah woman recently told me “It was one of the first times they met people who understood them.”
The 2013 ESTC conference is being held in Nairobi, Kenya September 24-27.  This is an excellent event for all tourism professionals and ecotourism stakeholders.  Go to http://www.ecotourismconference.org/

 

Finding the Underappreciated Value in Natural Resources

The underappreciated values of natural resources

What are Natural Resources?1319_xf8q9z1orv_m

The definition of natural resources is “a resource (actual and potential) that is provided by nature”

Natural resources are often taken in consideration when evaluating the wealth of a country.  Wealth is measured by the amount of minerals, timber, water, and commercially important animals such fish, birds, mammals, invertebrates that can provide tangible goods are considered for sale on the market.

Their importance is evaluated by what they can provide if they are extracted or harvested and sold.

 

Yet the value of natural resources is much greater than that.

The true value of natural resources is often overlooked.

The economic potential of extracting and harvesting is minimal when compared to what they can provide if they are maintained and nurtured.

When one realizes the outdoor recreation industry is nearly double the size of automotive and fuel industry, the the idea for economic impact could be much greater when one thinks about conserving and nurturing.

Wildlife viewing by birders is considered one the fastest growing recreation activities in the United States (Outdoor Recreation Coalition of America).

Birders spent an estimated $12 billion on trip expenditures and $24 billion on equipment expenditures in 2006.

People will also spend a ton on outdoor photography.

As huge as the outdoor recreation industry is, it is just one small part of the value of natural resources.

Nurturing an active outdoor economy can provide numerous advantages if it is done correctly.  There can be tremendous benefit to education, scientific discovery, and quality of life of the people.

It is the goal of this site to provide intelligent methods and strategies to help communities increase their benefit from their natural resources responsibly.

I hope that this provides you with some food for thought.

Please post your questions here.  Let us know what you would like to learn so we can better serve you.

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