Climbing Management Plan

Climbing Management Plans are an effective way for land managers to manage climbing on both public and private lands. A successful Climbing Management Plan:

  • Builds cooperative relationships between climbers and resource managers.
  • Provides management direction that is the minimum necessary to protect resources and is implemented on a graduated scale from indirect measures (e.g. education) to direct measures (restrictions).
  • Satisfies statutory requirements and internal agency guidance, if applicable.
  • Provides information about status and contextual importance of resource values and climbing activity. It also provides information about use patterns and effects of climbing on these resources.
  • Articulates climbing as a recreational experience, and describe the variety of climbing opportunities as values.
  • Identifies management alternatives that address climbing impacts in a manner that is consistent with management approach to other recreation groups.

Climbers’ compliance with management approaches is generally good in areas where management priorities are well publicized and there have been opportunities for public involvement in development of management policy. Poor compliance often arises in situations where there has been limited communication between climbers and managers, where management policies show poor understanding of climbing activity and use patterns, or where new restrictions have arisen without the identification of problems through field observation.

The Climbing Federation of Rio de Janeiro along with the State Parks administration (INEA-RJ) promoted Minimum Impact Seminars for each mountain park in Rio de Janeiro. These seminars empowered climbers to decide along with Parks’ administration what they wanted for climbing in specific areas, on a compromise to protect the environment and have access to the climbing walls. The results of the Seminars became CMPs and were used in the Park’s management plan. Examples of the results can be seen here.

You can combine a CMP with a Risk Management Plan, depending on the context.

Suggested outline for a CMP*

A climbing management document may incorporate the following contents depending on scope and extent of the project:

  1. Introduction
  2. Purpose and need
  3. Goal and objectives
  4. Authorities, policies, guidelines for resource and recreation management
  5. Description of present condition of natural, historic and cultural resource: general description, vegetation communities, wildlife communities, special resources (special-status species/ cultural/historic), and existing condition of identified resources.
  6. Description of relevant management infrastructure (trails, camping facilities, waste disposal, parking).
  7. Description of climbing activity: history, national/regional importance, who the climbers are –  user profile, description of existing and potential climbing opportunities, description of use patterns, potential for new climbing areas, and maps/location of climbing resources.
  8. Description/summary of climbing management issues/concerns.
  9. Desired future resource conditions.
  10. Description of climbing management, past and present
  11. Management recommendations for policy, guidelines, and action
  12. Summary of internal/public review process, including any changes made to the draft
  13. Future review/liaison procedures
  14. Glossary of terms
  15. Bibliography
  16. Contacts (interested parties/organizations)
  17. Appendices describe the variety of climbing opportunities as values

For a detailed guidance on developing a Climbing Management Plan, please download this Access Fund document:

*Climbing Management: A Guide to Climbing Issues and the Development of a Climbing Management Plan