Mountain biking in protected areas
Mountain bike tourism is undoubtedly a growing trend in Europe, but what are the challenges for its implementation in protected areas? How can sustainable destinations include this practice in their areas?
On the 22nd April, EUROPARC participated at the International Mountain Bicycling Association – IMBA Europe Summit 2016 to present the potential link between sustainable tourism strategies and mountain bike practices. The Federation was kindly invited by the IMBA Europe to share an overview about the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas (ECST) and some good practices arising from Europarc’s network of sustainable destinations. Over 70 participants from 19 countries attended the Summit, a 3 days event that took place in Schweinfurt, Germany.
During the conference, the ECST principles and methodology received great interest from the audience, which was mainly composed of professionals in the field of mountain bike who are willing to better cooperate with protected areas. The main questions concerned the possibilities of integrating the local Charter Forum (of each sustainable destination awarded with the ECST) and, thus, the future possibility of having local bike clubs and groups actively engaged and contributing for the sustainable tourism strategy locally implemented. New trends, like e-mountain biking, were also briefly discussed.
In order to collect best practices, EUROPARC made a call to the ECST network and received good examples coming from Finland, France, Italy and Spain. Below you can find a brief description and a link about each case presented or download here the full presentation.
EUROPARC Federation considers important the further development of indicators and a monitoring methodology, to assess and evaluate the impact of mountain bike activities in protected areas – in an economic, environmental and social perspectives. Therefore, all contributions in this field, being implemented by areas awarded with the ECST, are very welcomed.
Examples from the Network
Mountain Biking in Finnish Protected Areas – a few principles and guidelines
“Cycling and mountain biking are allowed by public right of access, generally also in protected areas. They are usually practiced using existing trails, routes, and roads… Mountain biking can cause erosion on hill slopes, fell areas, and other vulnerable habitats, such as sandy heaths and rocky areas with light vegetation cover. Mountain bikers and other path users can generally use the same routes, though on the busiest routes, mountain biking can be restricted for security reasons. If a management plan is drawn up for a protected area, it should take mountain bikers into account and should involve enthusiasts and mountain biking clubs in the planning process…”
Extract from the document: Principles of Protected Area Management in Finland (2014), Parks & Wildlife Finland
Faced with the development of demand for recreation and outdoor sports, the French Cycling Federation and the French Regional Parks Federation signed a national agreement on the development of cycling and mountain biking in the regional nature parks. The French Regional Parks, through this cooperation, will strengthen the development of cycling practices, responding to the needs of both practitioners and the challenges of the Parks territories. The national agreement, valid for a period of 6 years, will be completed by departmental or local agreements on specific projects. Signed on 24th March 2016. Parks that contributed to the content of the agreement are: Parc du Luberon, Parc Scarpe-Escaut, Parc Boucles Seine normande, Millevaches en Limousin, Caps et marais d’Opale, Volcans d’Auvergne, Parc Massif des Bauges, Parc Perche.
Examples from French Parks
PNR Livradois-Forez – Mountain Bike best practices
PNR Vercors Inspiration Vecors
PNR Pilat Circular mountain bike trails
Alta Murgia National Park Transmurgiana
EUROPARC-Spain – The working group on mountain races in Spanish Natural Parks
EUROPARC-Spain is coordinating a working group on mountain races in Spanish Natural Parks. In the working group, key members are the Spanish environmental administrations, the mountain Federation, the University, environmental experts consultants and racers. At the time being, it has been drafted a document on “Best practices for the development of mountain races in protected areas”.
Torre Blanca, Valencia Centros BTT
The Comunidad Valenciana supported the creation of BTT Centers – a freely accessible facility for mountain bikers, which has a network of well-signposted routes and a series of equipment and additional biking support services. Whatever your level, BTT Centres will allow you to discover the most beautiful areas of the Region of Valencia and ride safely and comfortably. Each BTT Centre offers various trails with different levels of difficulty, taking you through areas with little motorised traffic, generally on untarmacked paths. Routes are also implemented in protected areas or use old train tracks (called green tracks).
Zona Zero Pirineos Private initiative
Offer routes inside protected areas (Parque natural Sierra y Cañones de Guara, Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido)
Examples from Spanish Parks
Sierra de Gredos Regional Park Centro BTT
Montsant Nature Park BTT Trails Catalunya
Sierra Nevada Route TransNevada
Sierra de Espuna Regional Park The Espubike Challenge
National Park Sierra de Guadarrama Trails in Guadarrama
GeoPark de Sobrarbe Pyrenees Route
About the IMBA Europe
IMBA Europe (International Mountain Bicycling Association) is a young organisation, established in 2012, operating with some professional staff since 2013. IMBA has a longer history in the US where the association has its roots and was founded in 1988. IMBA has 4 core values, speak-build-respect-ride. It’s about advocacy, sustainable trail development, education (e.g. trail etiquette) and promotion of mountain biking as outdoor recreation. The focus is at the grassroots level, and the organization is not involved in competition.
IMBA Europe was founded as an umbrella for national mountain bike groups / associations across Europe. At the IMBA Europe Summit, mountain biking was the main topic but different stakeholders were present. Ranging from member organisations to people who are working in the tourism industry, bicycle industry, land managers, Universities and nature conservation agencies.
All presentations of the IMBA Summit 2016 can be found at the following link: http://www.imba-europe.org/programs/imba-europe-summit-2016.
Ignace Schops at the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting
EUROPARC President, Ignace Schops, is in Montreal for the 20th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
Ignace will participate in the Conference “Let Nature do the Job” organised by the European Commission, where he will introduce how protected areas provide solutions for the environmental challenges, by delivering benefits to society and economy. Mainstreaming biodiversity, providing ecosystem-based adaptation and disaster risk reduction and restoration will be some of the topics covered in the meeting.
The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice gathers every year, and provides assessments of the status of biological diversity and the types of measures taken in accordance with the provisions of the Convention.
What is the Convention?
Signed by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the Convention on Biological Diversity is dedicated to promoting sustainable development. Conceived as a practical tool for translating the principles of Agenda 21 into reality, the Convention recognizes that biological diversity is about more than plants, animals and micro organisms and their ecosystems – it is about people and our need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live.
Read more about the Convention on Biological Diversity at: www.cbd.int/
Nominations for the Alfred Toepfer Medal are open!
The Alfred Toepfer Medal is awarded by the EUROPARC Federation every year to those who have made a contribution to nature conservation in Europe.
The candidates are nominated by EUROPARC members and the winner is selected by the Juri, comprised by EUROPARC Council members. Do you have someone in mind who you think deserves recognition for their dedication or achievements in the field of nature conservation and protected areas? If so, please consider nominating that person for the award!
Nominations can be done by filling the form below, before the 20th of June.
For more information about the Alfred Toepfer Medal please contact Mrs. Langenfelde to m.langenfelde_at_europarc.org.
If you are looking for inspiration from previous years, have a look at our page dedicated to previous Alfred Toepfer Medal winners.
Good luck to all candidates!
The European Parks‘ Academy
This summer, protected areas professionals will have a unique chance to develop their skills and learn about the emerging trends, new approaches and technologies in protected areas.
The European Parks’ Academy (EPA) is a summer school with seminars, which will take place in July, in Klagenfurt, Austria. The programme has been elaborated in collaboration with IUCN WCPA, together with partners in Austria and with support of the Austrian Ministry of Environment. The first two modules will be on “Governance of protected areas” and “Financial management of protected areas”.
The seminars of EPA focus on new international and European standards, policies and guidelines and their implementation in protected areas, such as policies of IUCN, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, UNESCO or Convention on Biodiversity.
Registration is open now as well as the application for scholarships!