We were asked a very important question recently on Instagram about the environmental impacts on Scotland’s trails of running our mountain bike tours. This is a crucial discussion and we’d love to hear your thoughts. It’s a long read – here’s our position:
:: QUESTION :: Just out of interest, and in no way is this intended as a dig etc, but do you contribute anything financially to the upkeep of these trails? Given the increased MTB traffic, particularly of the commercial venture variety on them, it seems prudent that they’re maintained properly to offset any damage caused. I ask this as the majority have been funded by the various mountaineering/climbing/nature trusts over the years and the recent increase in traffic from bikes is definitely having an impact.
:: OUR ANSWER :: It’s a great and very necessary question – thanks for asking. We don’t have all the answers but we do take sustainability and environmental impacts of mountain biking very seriously.
The key to this conversation relates to ‘responsible access’ in relation to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and as an ethical business with our amazing guides, we’re fortunate to have some influence over the way our clients interact with the environments we ride, to explain the sensitivities, responsibilities and politics of the Scottish landscape. We are also able to be selective and avoid certain areas at certain times, and by keeping the size of our groups and the number of trips to a small footprint level, we hope to minimise any negative environmental impacts of running our business. We operate responsibly, but beyond our own small sphere of influence, we cannot control the way other operators or the majority of the mountain biking population may choose to ride.
We’re also engaged in various positive conversations about this issue at a local and national level with DMBinS and Scottish Natural Heritage, and in trail days and various ad-hoc on trail repairs, as well as the formation of community initiatives, for example, Tweed Valley Trails Association, to help address these issues. Whilst these conversations progress with public and private stakeholders, we will continue our membership of the key mountain and environmental organisations e.g. 1% for the Planet where it is hoped we can eventually channel monies into local trail initiatives.
It’s not enough though – as riders and businesses, don’t you agree we all must do more to be responsible if we want to keep on doing this thing we love? We’d encourage the entire mountain biking community in Scotland and elsewhere to engage with this issue and we’d welcome hearing from you or any others about how we, and the mountain biking community at large can do more around this important subject.