Connecting Nature and People: The Transformative Power of Trails

Every Journey begins with a single step…or pedal, or paddle. We weave across our landscapes, through trails that connect us to each other, to nature and to the history and culture of our places. 

Trails have the power to heal, to protect and to transform individuals and communities and can lead us in a different future direction. 

This webinar was a forerunner to the World Trails Conference to be held in Ottawa Canada in October, to which we encourage all with an interest in Trails to attend.

In 1,5 hours, we explored the European perspective of Trails, through the lens of Protected Areas. We learned of the importance of Trails in Europe and how we can capitalise on their value to transform people and nature. Some main takeaways:

  • Numbers are important! Being able to quantity the benefits trails bring, from public health to local economies, is an important communication and advocacy tool.
  • Trails are an essential tool to manage visitors.
  • Work with your local communities to develop trails to make them as impactful as possible.
  • There is a range of social benefits that trails bring, we need to get smart about communication these.

Mike McClure of ENOS also provided a ‘sneak peek’ into their European Declaration on Trails.

Get more information from the recording and the case study presentations!

Case studies

Lynx Trail – Herbert Wölger
Herbert Wölger, Director of Gesäuse National Park, told the story of the Lynx Trail, an 11 day hiking trail through Austria. The trail connects 3 Protected Areas and its main goal is to raise awareness for a threatened small lynx population. The trail connects landscape and people, nature protection and regional development, slow tourism and professional management.

Get Herbert’s presentation here.

Technology and Data analysis in trail Management – Mathieu Roy
Mathieu Roy, Chief Executive Officer at Trans Canada Trail, discussed the role that technology and data analysis can play in both trail management and stewardship. He used recent examples from the Trans Canada Trail – Canada’s nationwide trail system – to demonstrate how quantifying the benefits of trails can enrich visitor experience while supporting investment in both trail infrastructure and long-term sustainability. Trans Canada Trail will host this year’s World Trails Conference in Ottawa, Canada; you are warmly invited to attend this unique opportunity for global collaboration and knowledge sharing related to trail management, sustainability and innovation in the global trail sector.

Get Mathieu’s presentation here.

Trails and sustainable development – Julian Grey
Julian Grey, Vice-Chair of the World Trails Network, spoke about how trails are an important part of the wider protected landscapes network, connecting people to nature. He gave an overview of the impacts of trail networks in driving regenerative tourism economies and improving health and wellbeing, and how trail brands can be used to support nature recovery along trail corridors.

Get Julian’s presentation here.

The power of trails – Steen Kobberø-Hansen
In his presentation, Steen provided an overview of the European Ramblers Association (ERA), highlighting their mission to promote walking and hiking activities across Europe. He discussed their vision of the uniting power of trails, emphasizing how these pathways connect people, cultures, and nature.

Get Steen’s presentation here.

ENOS Declaration on Trails – Mike McClure
Furthermore, participants heard from Mike McClure of the European Network of Outdoor Sports (ENOS) and their Declaration on Trails.

Get Mike’s presentation here.