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1 May 2007 The Amenity Migrants—Seeking and Sustaining Mountains and Their Cultures
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This is a comprehensive and highly worthwhile volume for those interested in contemporary developments and change in mountain environments. While there is a growing body of research and literature on both mountain tourism in general and second-home tourism, this is probably the first book that takes a holistic view of the large and complex phenomenon of amenity migration in mountains. With increasing welfare, the last few decades have seen new migration patterns in many parts of the world, as people seek new places to live that have desirable natural and social conditions. This has grown into a more or less global societal phenomenon with significant implications for mountain environments and cultures. The fact that people travel to and seek places for their beauty and pleasant conditions is not a new phenomenon. But what partly defines and distinguishes amenity migration from tourism is the fact that large groups of people not only visit, but move to these areas and remain there more or less permanently. There are several reasons for these changes, such as changing demographics, increasing affluence, changes in public values, flexible work patterns, and communication technologies. These and several other reasons are explored in depth.

The book is divided into 5 sections and 21 chapters. Since it compiles a range of different case studies and combines this with an overarching analysis and thoughts about the way ahead, there is something for everyone interested in the subject. However, with 17 case studies essentially exploring more or less the same concept, some of the problem statements and discussions become somewhat repetitive. On the other hand, there is a wealth of information about amenity developments and conditions around the world, and anyone dealing with mountain development, tourism, second homes, and regional economic development will find this book very useful.

It is clear that the editor and authors all share a concern about what is happening in mountains throughout the world. The book states clearly that mountains are vulnerable and subject to rapid change, and that amenity migration is one of the most important current processes unfolding in mountain regions. There is little question that there is reason for concern about negative environmental and social impacts, but several chapters also discuss and document important positive effects on communities, economies, and management. As such, this volume is a very timely contribution, providing a comprehensive coverage of patterns of amenity migration and its effects at international as well as regional and local levels.

The 3 introductory chapters outline meta-themes in amenity migration. In the first chapter, Laurence Moss provides an overview of the phenomenon; why people come to mountains in increasing numbers; what facilitates and drives the migration; ecological, economic and cultural effects; why a mountain focus is so important; and some of the actions taken to date to deal with this development. This chapter sets the stage for the rest of the book and defines the key concepts. I particularly enjoyed the term “trophy home,” now easily recognized in many affluent mountain communities around the world. The next chapter converses nicely around the fascinating spiritual dimension of moving to the mountains. Harvey Locke balances aptly between the more factual analysis of spirituality as it relates to human migration to mountains, and self reflection. Personally, I would have liked him to expand this chapter, but there are other texts that do this for the keenly interested. In Chapter 3, Linda McMillan takes the reader, albeit quickly, through mountain recreation history in the USA since approximately the 1950s. The main contribution of this chapter is to show the significant impacts of recreation users on mountain environments, and how access, interest and impacts have grown considerably in the last couple of decades. She identifies 2 types of recreation users—traditional and non-traditional—and traces their different behavior, values, and impacts on mountain ecologies. The optimistic stance is that some recreation users are emerging as important stakeholders who can strengthen the protection of mountain environments.

The next 3 sections are structured around contributions on amenity migration in the Americas, Europe, and Asia and the Pacific. The first section is the most comprehensive, due to the comparatively larger amount of amenity-related research conducted in this part of the world. Eight different chapters cover various locations and contexts which have felt the impacts of amenity migration. These include the linkages between amenities and migration at different geographic scales in the USA, the effects of 20 years of amenity migration in New Mexico, and the failures of policy-makers and planners to deal with this development. Other chapters discuss transportation issues, changes in job markets following migration patterns, the skills and assets brought to a community by in-migrants, the transformation of communities from one-season to four-season, impacts on indigenous people, planning challenges, second-home development, the dynamics between mountain amenity communities and larger metropolitan areas, and the perceptions of various stakeholder groups.

The European section opens with a comprehensive overview of the trends in amenity-seeking in the European Alps, thus covering the patterns in a number of countries, as well as including a discussion on some of the regional dynamics in Europe. Northern Europe is represented in chapters on second-home tourism in Norway and on the relationships between tourism development, in-migration, and labor markets in rural Sweden.

Relatively little research exists so far on amenity migration in Asia and the South Pacific, but this book includes 3 chapters that reflect a small portion of the incredible cultural and environmental diversity found in this part of the world. Although this region houses large populations of very poor people, there are also examples of increasing amenity migration in several places. Major challenges and pressures often spark innovative responses, as in the chapter on multiple-scenario strategic analysis in a bioregional context in the Philippines. A chapter on Australia builds on a creative data analysis, compiling different types of data sets to provide evidence for complex patterns of amenity migration, while in New Zealand it is shown that second-home development and tourism are major factors in developing amenity migration.

In the final section, Laurence Moss attempts to look into the future and tie some of the many themes in the book together. There is an element of urgency and warning here as he describes some of the plausible characteristics of future amenity migration in the mountains. This is a complex book, and the final chapter does a nice job of sorting out the most important issues. As a many-faceted documentation of relatively recent (in a historical perspective) global phenomenon, the book raises more questions than it answers. However, it does provide multiple insights into the phenomenon of amenity migration in widely different environments and contexts. It could well serve as a platform for designing more specific research programs into migration patterns in mountains. Planners and policy-makers should also find the book highly useful as a source of thinking and documentation around a major contemporary mountain issue.

Bjørn P. Kaltenborn "The Amenity Migrants—Seeking and Sustaining Mountains and Their Cultures," Mountain Research and Development 27(2), 182-183, (1 May 2007).
Published: 1 May 2007

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