Managing environmental impact of bouldering as a niche outdoor-climbing activity

  • JH Van Der Merwe
  • U Joubert
Keywords: Bouldering, Nature-based tourism, Activity impacts, Management-model design and application, Rocklands bouldering area.


The paper proposes a normative management instrument to help environmental managers in the field of outdoor recreation and conservation limit the impact of sport climbing, bouldering in particular, as an action-sport activity. Evidence of the rising popularity of the bouldering sport and its associated impacts on natural-resource areas is presented. The model is applied to and tested in the Rocklands bouldering area of South Africa to demonstrate its efficacy. The instrument uses 58 test criteria to account for the maintenance of a resource’s market appeal and resource sensitivity by capturing these aspects at three spatial scales: the bouldering area as a whole, its sub-fields and the individual boulders. The model should aid conservation authorities, owners of private climbing areas and the organised climbing fraternity to ensure long-term sustainability of the use of climbing resources. The research concludes that the instrument provides the means to manage a natural resource sustainably within local and even international contexts.

Key words: Bouldering; Nature-based tourism; Activity impacts; Management-model design and application; Rocklands bouldering area.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0379-9069