Traditionally, the local population was closely linked to the woodlands because it was from there that they obtained resources that were indispensable to their subsistence economy. The fact that the woodlands have reached the present day in such good condition is thanks to the local population, which managed to exercise its wisdom so as to take advantage without destroying.
Thus, the woodlands which are today included in Garajonay National Park are, in part, the product of the uses of the past. It is still possible to find remains of old goatherds' cabins, the holes for charcoal ovens, dams and irrigation channels and even some remains of the old water mills.
Nowadays the old traditional forms of making use of the resources have given way to another kind of use which permits the natural resources to be preserved.
If, up to two decades ago, Garajonay was a remote and isolated place, today it receives almost half a million visitors a year. A number of factors have led to this situation: the closeness of La Gomera to the great holiday centres in the south of Tenerife and the excellent connections by sea with these centres, as well as a network of highways which runs through the park with a number of roads.
The majority of the visits are from holidaymakers on organised visits from the south of Tenerife, which cross the Park on their coaches with some stops at the viewing points and sometimes also at the Visitors' Centre. Another very different kind of visitor are those who stay overnight on the island, who are fewer in number and who come basically from central Europe to walk in the Park. There is also the population of the island, who use the footpaths above all at weekends.
With this context of visits, the management of the public use of the Park is directed above all to ensuring conservation. For this purpose, significant areas of integral reserve have been created which are free of use by holidaymakers and areas of restricted use to which access is only possible under certain conditions.
But not everything is limitations, it is also important that the visitor should have available equipment and services which make his visit more satisfying and so a well-signposted network of footpaths and viewing points has been created. Different publications help the visitor to get to know the treasures of the Park and the Visitors' Centre in Juego de Bolas offers a wide range of resources and services of information and interpretation to the public.
Protection of nature and that these spaces are not something unconnected with them but something which requires their support. In this way, Garajonay has environmental education among its most important tasks, with particular emphasis on communication with local communities, with the idea that support for conservation policies and their participation are vital.
The programmes that are undertaken are aimed at everybody: schools, the elderly, residents, etc. and are centred not only on plants or animals but also on the relationship between people and their environment.