Recreational trails are an agent of anthropogenic disturbance in nature reserves and other low human impact areas. Effective management must balance the desire of recreationists to use these natural areas with the need to maintain their ecological integrity. Environments with low productivity may be particularly susceptible due to low resistance and resilience to recreational impacts. Our study examined 28 all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trails within the Avalon Wilderness Reserve and the adjacent surrounding area on the island of Newfoundland, Canada. We found that different habitat types (boreal forest, heaths, and bogs) differ in resistance and resilience to both direct on-trail erosion and indirect off-trail vegetation impacts of ATV trails. Dry forested sites were more resistant to direct on-trail erosion but less resistant to indirect off-trail vegetation disturbance. Heath sites were less resistant to direct on-trail erosion but highly resistant to indirect off-trail disturbance. Bog sites had low resistance to both direct and indirect trail disturbance. There have been limited studies on ATV trail impacts in boreal environments, and our findings provide guidance for managers in such environments to manage recreational vehicle use.
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Vol. 35 • No. 2