, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 82–98 | Cite as

Is tourism damaging ecosystems in the Andes? Current knowledge and an agenda for future research

  • Agustina Barros
  • Christopher Monz
  • Catherine Pickering


Despite the popularity of tourism and recreation in the Andes in South America and the regions conservation value, there is limited research on the ecological impacts of these types of anthropogenic use. Using a systematic quantitative literature review method, we found 47 recreation ecology studies from the Andes, 25 of which used an experimental design. Most of these were from the Southern Andes in Argentina (13 studies) or Chile (eight studies) with only four studies from the Northern Andes. These studies documented a range of impacts on vegetation, birds and mammals; including changes in plant species richness, composition and vegetation cover and the tolerance of wildlife of visitor use. There was little research on the impacts of visitors on soils and aquatic systems and for some ecoregions in the Andes. We identify research priorities across the region that will enhance management strategies to minimise visitor impacts in Andean ecosystems.


Visitor impacts Tourism Mountains Wildlife Vegetation Water Soils 



We thank Mercedes Ibañez and Stephan Halloy from The Nature Conservancy Southern Andes Conservation Program, Miguel Saravia and Manuel Peralvo from CONDESAN, Graeme Worboys, Fausto Sarmiento and Luis Alonso Ortega Fernandez for providing information about conservation status, protected areas and tourism in the Andes. We thank Clare Morrison for reviewing the manuscript prior to submission. Funding for this research was provided by the Griffith University, Australia.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 138 kb)


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Agustina Barros
    • 1
  • Christopher Monz
    • 2
  • Catherine Pickering
    • 1
  1. 1.Griffith School of EnvironmentGriffith University Gold CoastNathanAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Environment and Society and The Ecology CenterUtah State UniversityLoganUSA

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