The Many Facets Threatening Our Wilderness

The beauty of our wild places lies in their pristine nature, offering respite from the bustling world and a chance to reconnect with the raw power of nature. However, these precious landscapes face a growing threat – commercialisation through tourism and private development. The threat of commercial developments in parks, national parks, and wilderness areas is multifaceted and can have a range of negative impacts on both the environment and human experience. Understanding the various forms of this encroachment is crucial to effectively advocating for their protection.

Luxury Lodges and Resorts

These high-end facilities, often boasting luxury dwellings and gourmet dining, disrupt ecosystems, fragment landscapes with access roads and infrastructure, and limit public access through exclusivity. A 2022 study by the University of Tasmania found that luxury ecotourism projects in sensitive areas can lead to a 50% decline in biodiversity within five years.

Mass Tourism Infrastructure

Building adventure tourism facilities, and extensive visitor centers attracts large crowds, overwhelming natural resources, generating pollution, and altering the wilderness experience. Research by the World Wildlife Fund suggests that uncontrolled tourism in protected areas can increase stress levels in wildlife by up to 40%.

Adventure Tourism Activities

Helicopter tours, off-road vehicle trails, and guided expeditions, while seemingly eco-friendly, can harm wildlife, disrupt migratory patterns, and contribute to noise pollution. A 2023 report by the IUCN Commission on Protected Areas found that poorly managed adventure tourism activities can lead to a 20% decrease in visitor satisfaction due to environmental degradation.

The Fight for Our Wilderness

Understanding the multifaceted threat of tourism development is crucial for advocating for wilderness protection. By arming ourselves with data and research, we can effectively communicate the dangers of these developments and push for stronger regulations and responsible land management practices. Remember, our wild places are irreplaceable jewels, and the fight for their protection requires both knowledge and action.

Protecting the jewels of our nation

Our national parks, reserves, and wilderness areas are the jewels of our nation. They offer breathtaking landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and a rare chance to reconnect with nature’s unspoiled beauty. Sadly, these precious spaces are increasingly under threat from commercial development, including luxury lodges and other high-end projects.

While the allure of ecotourism may seem appealing, allowing such developments within protected areas comes at a significant cost. Here’s why it’s crucial to keep commercialization out of wild places:

Environmental Impacts

Habitat Loss and Fragmentation

Development can directly destroy natural habitats, displacing or endangering wildlife. Roads, buildings, and other infrastructure fragment remaining habitats, impacting species that rely on large, connected areas.

Pollution and Resource Depletion

Construction and increased human activity can introduce pollutants like water and air contaminants, harming ecosystems and water quality. Development can also drain water resources that are vital for the natural environment.

Species Introduction and Invasive Species Spread

Unintentional or intentional introduction of non-native species can disrupt native ecosystems and threaten biodiversity. Increased human activity can also facilitate the spread of invasive species already present.

Disruption of Ecological Processes

Development can disrupt natural processes like fire regimes, water flow, and pollination, leading to unpredictable ecological consequences.

Human Impacts

Loss of Wild Character and Scenic Beauty

Construction and infrastructure can dramatically alter the natural landscape, diminishing its wilderness character and aesthetic appeal. This can negatively impact recreational experiences and the spiritual connection many people have with wild places.

Increased Crowding and Noise

Development can lead to increased visitor numbers and associated problems like crowding, noise pollution, and littering. This can detract from the enjoyment of nature and reduce the quality of recreational experiences.

Loss of Purpose and Value

Excessive commercialisation can diminish the core purpose of parks and wilderness areas, prioritising profit over public access and enjoyment of the natural world. This can lead to feelings of alienation and a disconnect from the values these areas are meant to uphold.

Loss of Cultural and Traditional Values

Many indigenous communities and other groups hold cultural and spiritual significance in these areas. Development can disrupt these connections and traditions, causing further harm and marginalisation.

Threat to Public Values

Shifting Priorities

National parks exist to protect nature and serve the public, not generate profit for private companies. Imagine pristine landscapes turned into playgrounds for the wealthy few.

Precedent and Slippery Slope

Allowing any commercial development can set a precedent for further intrusions, leading to a gradual erosion of wilderness protection.

Unsustainable Practices

Commercial activities often prioritise short-term economic gains over long-term environmental considerations, leading to unsustainable practices that eventually harm both the environment and the tourism industry.

So What’s the Solution?

Find out how we can protect our wild places >


James McCormack, editor of WILD Magazine, explores what’s really going on in this two-part piece.

Luxury Lodges = Wilderness Lost

Luxury Lodges = Wilderness Lost


Our national parks are under attack. Privatisation, in the form of luxury lodges and other accommodation for walkers, has gained nationwide momentum. In this, Part I of a two-part series, we look at breadth of the problem across the country.

(This story originally featured in Wild #178, Summer 2020)
Photo: Walls of Jerusalem from Lake Malbena, Tasmania. Credit: Grant Dixon

Luxury Lodges = Wilderness Lost

Luxury Lodges = Wilderness Lost


Our national parks are under attack. The push for luxury lodges and other within-park accommodation, has gained nationwide momentum. In this, Part Two of a two-part series, we look at the root causes and broad implications of these developments.

(This story originally featured in Wild #179, Autumn 2021)
Photo: Get set for the serenity of Tasmania’s South Coast to be shattered. Credit: Dan Broun

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