Why have permits and regulations?

National parks, forest areas, coastal reserves and other types of reserved land all have a variety of objectives in their management. The primary objectives may range from strict conservation objectives (e.g. wilderness or scientific reference areas) to timber-harvesting objectives in public or private forests. Secondary objectives may include recreation, grazing, education and a wide range of other purposes. Conservation of ecosystems and the provision of opportunities for recreation and education are usually listed amongst the primary objectives for managing areas used for outdoor recreation.

Land managers are responsible for ensuring that any secondary uses do not adversely impact on the primary objectives for managing the land. In conservation areas, the natural functioning of ecosystems takes precedence and recreation (and other activities compatible with management objectives) are managed and controlled to ensure they do not lead to unacceptable impacts on the primary objective of the land.

Without permits and regulations, land managers would be powerless to control activities and levels of use. And without such controls, there would be no restriction on where recreation activities (for example) could occur on every piece of public land. Uncontrolled recreation use would result in conflict between user groups and damaging impacts on the environment from incompatible activities.