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Investigate the impact of tourism and of a Park and Ride scheme on the natural limestone environment of Cheddar, in order to decide whether this Park and Ride should be built.

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Paragraph 1: Introduction Cheddar, in Southwest England, is famous for its gorge and caves, which are features of the limestone area in which the town is located. Every year, these interesting landforms attract increasing amounts of tourists, which endanger the natural limestone environment of Cheddar, in particular the gorge. A Park and Ride, which would be built at the Eastern entrance to the gorge, has been suggested as a possible way of solving this problem. The aim of my coursework will be to investigate the impact of tourism and of a Park and Ride scheme on the natural limestone environment of Cheddar, in order to decide whether this Park and Ride should be built. This decision-making exercise will be a cross-unit task, referring to two parts of the syllabus: "Water, Landforms and People"(physical geography) and "People, Work and Development"(human geography). In the context of physical geography, I will look at the formation of the limestone scenery in Cheddar. The human aspect of my coursework will cover the impacts of tourism on this scenery, as well as the economical and social effects of a Park and Ride on the local area. Collection of primary data: In order to understand how the landforms at Cheddar were made, and how tourism can damage them, I have studied in class the action of water on limestone and the features it creates. The primary data I needed, in order to analyse physical features and the importance of tourism, was collected during a field trip to Cheddar. It included a land use survey and visits to the caves, gorge and panoramic tower, all of which will help me determine how important tourism is to the local economy, and whether a Park and Ride might disrupt it. I also carried out a traffic survey to get an idea of the number of visitors and of the damage done to the gorge. ...read more.


Other people in favour of the scheme are the environmentalist, such as Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth. These organisations are independent from the National Trust and are concerned with the protection of the gorge and its whole ecosystem. The environmentalists are worried that certain aspects of tourism, in particular heavy traffic, are seriously damaging the gorge. This clearly comes up in my traffic survey, as it shows that an average of 240 vehicles pass through the gorge every hour. In the West Eye View video, environmentalists explained that traffic causes vibrations, which weaken the rock, and that car fumes accelerate chemical weathering by making rainwater more acidic. Tourists also damage the gorge because they picnic or climb on slopes, which loosens the rock, and leave litter behind. The park and ride scheme would resolve these problems_ the gorge would be shut to cars and pedestrians; there would be fewer park and ride buses than there are cars in the gorge at the moment, because each bus would take many cars' worth of passengers. In the West Eye View video, the environmentalists thought that the project would reduce traffic even if lorries were still allowed through the gorge. This was confirmed by my questionnaire survey which shows that 70% of people travelled to Cheddar by car. The video also showed that environmentalists are worried about the actions of the owners of the gorge (the National Trust and Longleat Estate). Each winter, the gorge is closed and loose rocks are dislodged. Although this increases safety on a short-term basis, it accelerates the erosion of the gorge because outer layers of rock protect inner layers from rainwater (which causes chemical weathering) and wind even if they are loose. In the video, Doctor Stephen Hensten says: "Two or three tonnes of rock fall each year anyway, clearing rock makes more falls inevitable". Another problem is the scraping of vegetation, which harms the ecosystem of the gorge. ...read more.


My results would have been much higher if the survey had been done at the weekend and in summer. I have used the results of my survey as if they were representative of traffic all year around, which is wrong_ another survey, taken in the summer, marks 500 vehicles per hour, whilst my survey only shows 240 per hour. My conclusion not to build the Park and Ride was largely based on this biased primary evidence, so my decision is likely to be inaccurate. Another factor leading to inaccuracy in my coursework is the class debate we held. Although it was useful in understanding how different groups would be affected by the Park and Ride, there were more students representing people against the scheme than people in favour of it. This means that I had far more arguments against the project than in favour of it, so my decision not to build the park and ride may be unjust. Although I think my conclusion might not be very accurate, I am still extremely proud of this coursework_ It is my first ever ICT based coursework, as my computer skills are quite poor. I find it very frustrating to be dependant on a brainless machine that crashes every ten minutes (or does not save for some unknown reason), and it took me 4 hours to produce the graphs. But I have managed, it looks nice, and I actually found the Internet useful to get maps and extra information on the physical geography of Cheddar. The coursework activity could be greatly improved if we were provided with more detailed information on the park and ride. For example, knowing the number of parking spaces and jobs it would create, as well as its total cost, would be of great help when deciding whether to build it or not. Overall, I found this coursework interesting because it included both human and physical geography, which, I have found, are closely linked to one another. I have put my best effort into this work, especially for the ICT, and it was completed on time. ...read more.

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