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Growth in ‘adventure recreation’, typically practised in protected areas, is occurring. Canyoning (cf. canyoneering), is one such activity. In the Greater Blue Mountain World Heritage Area (GBMWHA), management was concerned that canyoning was causing environmental damage. However, there is a dearth of data, even on participation, because of the ‘composite’ nature of the activity, its recent emergence, and because adventure recreation is typically restricted to wilderness areas which renders visitor census problematic. Despite difficulties, management need to monitor such activities and a valid, reliable method of survey is required. For emerging forms of adventure recreation, identification of a representative sample is especially problematic. Often members of enthusiasts’ club are surveyed because sampling this demographic provides for an efficient and cost effective survey method, and wide geographical coverage. However, the representativeness of club members of the targeted population is questionable and thus results may not translate to valid/reliable outcomes. Despite issues, we found no concurrent studies of adventure recreation that compared club versus on-site sampling. Although canyoning in the GBMWHA (Australia) involves thousands of visits annually, no canyoning-specific clubs exist. A composite sport, it requires no specific equipment/clothing, and there are no formal competitive Australian events. The land managers are, therefore, faced with the issue of monitoring participation in, and developing policies for this, and other adventure recreation activities undertaken in wilderness. To inform management’s survey methodology choice, we compared two survey approaches.
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