Full Length Research Paper
The study aimed at providing Kakamega Forest Management with empirical information that can be used to make judicious trail and visitor management decisions. This is important because trails form the main means for accessing visitor facilities and attractions in protected areas. However, most of the methods that have been used to asses trail use impacts have involved elaborate field measurements and laboratory analyses which are time consuming and economically not feasible for use by protected area managers. The study therefore used a survey approach in which standardized response categories were used to gauge tourists’ perceptions on trail use impacts following the peak and off-peak tourist seasons. Spearman rank correlation was used to analyse the data. Results arising from the study showed that trail use impacts namely footpaths formed outside permitted trails and vegetation trampling were persistent in Kakamega Forest in both tourist seasons. On the basis of these results, the study recommended that tourist activities perceived to have high trail use impacts should be dispersed, contained or prohibited in order to enhance the regeneration of vegetation and soils. In addition, the management should mainstream studies similar to the current one in their future management programmes as one way of monitoring trail use impacts.
Key words: Tourist, trail, trail use impact, vegetation trampling, soil erosion, footpaths outside permitted trails, management implications.
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