Originally Posted by perdidochas
Yes, but the paddle is much less likely to make a permanent mark than the switch. A switch with a lot of force can scar the skin. A paddle with the same amount of force wouldn't make a permanent mark.
I checked. No permanent scars on my behind, but, of course, there are a few on my psyche
My guess is that there is actually little difference between using a 1" or a 2" strap. I think the reason a rope might cause more damage is because it grips the bark tighter with compression around the edges of the bark's ridges. That, combined with movement in the hammock would cause it to tear at the bark more. A flat strap should lessen that effect. A flat strap with a piece of ccf against the bark might increase it though, acting more like a rope.
If a flat strap does spread the load and lessen damage, then the width should be increased with the load in the hammock, and a formula for weight/strap width could be worked out.
In short, there is probably not a "One size fits all" best solution for either people or trees.
Still, hikers using hammocks is a growing trend and manufacturers would be wise to come up with a "Best Practices" guide based on feedback from botanist and arboriculturist. (Is there any such thing now?)
I read there were thirty five people at a "Hang" here in the Ozarks a week or two ago (I missed it). These types of events will certainly cause Park Services to evaluate the impact.
As far as spending money on infrastructure to hang hammocks at campgrounds, I think the cost per unit would be pretty low, as would maintenance, and the life the unit would be quite long. If they can't dig holes and mix bags of redicrete to set poles in, we need a new kind of Park Service employee working for us.