The purpose of this website is to address environmental concerns in relation to the development of mountain bike trails in Australia’s natural areas.
Australia’s biodiversity (the variety of living things) is in serious decline, and human pressures increasingly affect our natural areas. There is growing community concern that escalating tourism-related developments, encouraged by all levels of government, are accelerating these detrimental impacts on natural areas and their ecosystems. There is also an increasing body of scientific literature addressing this topic.
One of these tourism-related developments is the construction of mountain bike trails, particularly the tendency to build them in relatively undisturbed natural and sometimes protected, areas.
Some examples of the detrimental impacts from mountain biking and trail construction are:
- Cumulative impacts on ecosystems are occurring due to the sheer scale of mountain bike trails. One trail construction can be hundreds of kilometres long. These continue to be built throughout Australia, often in extremely ‘ecologically sensitive’ areas such as;
- Steep gullies, that play a vital role as ‘refugia’ for plants and animals and fire protection, yet they are popular for mountain biking adventures and are often damaged and disturbed
- Edge Effects can affect species when trail construction causes changes in the vegetation structure at the edges of their habitat. Edge effects also encourage weeds and can spread serious environmental threats such as Phytophthora (Phytophthora cinnamomi), which can cause permanent damage to ecosystems and landscapes
- Disturbance from machinery during construction, maintenance and biking on trails can detrimentally affect threatened species such as Powerful Owls, Wedge-tailed eagles and Koalas as well as small mammals, reptiles and invertebrates that would be less able to avoid the rapid approach of mountain bikers
- Habitat loss and fragmentation can lead to ‘niche reductions’ for plant and animal species. They lose their ‘homes’ and thus, ecosystems decline
- In summary, this websites aims to add another dimension to the plethora of information available regarding tourism-related mountain biking developments.
It provides information regarding scientific reports on these impacts as well as media articles and grey literature. While we focus on environmental impacts, the social and economic costs to communities from mountain biking developments should not be ignored and information regarding those aspects is supplied.
We hope it will engender more environmental, social and economic consideration by decision-makers, land managers and recreational users of natural areas concerning the development of mountain biking trails and their associated infrastructures.