DIRTT Project

What is the DIRTT Project?

 

The popularity of mountain biking is booming across the world, amplifying the need for more trails and skilled trail builders to plan, design, construct and maintain sustainable trail infrastructure across Europe. This was the impetus for the DIRTT (Developing Intereuropean Resources for Trail builder Training) project in 2019, started by IMBA Europe and an international project group representing both volunteer and professional trail builders, education providers, municipalities and tourist destinations. In the first project phase DIRTT developed a mountain bike trail educational framework and study programme, leading to Europe’s first formal education for Mountain Bike Trail Planning, Construction and Maintenance at Fagskolen I Viken. The program was launched in September 2022 with a total of 25 students from 12 different countries. Thanks to the renewed support from the European Commission DIRTT will be able to continue developing the existing framework into a European-wide trail builder certification program in DIRTT 2.0.

 

DIRTT 2.0

 

Developing a European wide MTB Trail Builder Certification framework

 

 

The DIRTT project (Developing Intereuropean Resources for Trail building Training) springs from the core of Europe’s mountain bike enthusiasts, volunteers, and professionals centered around the European branch of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA Europe).

 

Mountain biking (MTB) activities enjoy growing attention and more participants are taking up the activity. Thus, the need for trails is growing, and local initiatives are increasingly present. In Norway an estimated 50 M€ is invested in trails and bike parks to date (source: Innovation Norway). Many of the actors in the field lacks necessary competence for constructing and building trails in a sustainable manor, the result may end in non-reversible damage to the nature. The DIRTT 2.0 project is intended to mitigate this risk through a series of actions building on the first DIRTT project aimed at tackling the trail builder’s skills gap, especially in building sustainable and inclusive MTB trails. The project will develop systems for promoting competencies needed to make the mountain biking sector capable to plan and build facilities in a sustainable manner that protects the environment in vulnerable areas of our common nature. 

A central finding in the first DIRTT project is a high degree of awareness in the sector towards building sustainable recreational infrastructure, which include people with fever opportunities in the field of sports and activity such as people with disabilities. This is an aspect that DIRTT 2.0 aims to reinforce by integrating learning outcomes regarding this in the European competence framework for mountain bike trail building and collecting examples of best practice to use in the trail builder education. 

 

A move towards job recognition

 

Apart from the EQF level 5 trail building management study program launched by FiV this fall and some short-term courses, there are no VET or HE provision aimed at the mountain bike trail builder sector. The DIRTT 1.0 competence survey show skills gaps at all levels from building to design of mountain bike trails. DIRTT 2.0 will develop a competence framework on EQF level 4 and further enhance the framework on level 5, thus providing platforms for new VET provision and work-based learning opportunities on these levels (especially level 4) and an adaptation of VET to labour market needs. 

The planned competence framework for mountain bike trail building will be a standard for the competences needed in the sector serving as a much-needed yardstick for quality assurance of the competence held by the professionals in the sector. Today, there are no systems in place for assessing the competence of mountain bike trail builders. The project will develop a system for competence verification and certification for the MTB trail sector. 

The project aims to support the growing interest for mountain biking and thus provide means for human outdoor activity which has a proven positive impact for the public health, both physically and mentally. The project will support the development of a growing sector of the construction business and thus lay the foundation for more established jobs in this domain. This will also improve the situation for seasonal unemployment for winter alpine professionals constructing trails in the summer.

 

Project partners

 

  • Fagskolen i Viken, project lead (NO)
  • IMBA Europe (EU)
  • DGI (DK)
  • Municipio de Agueda (PT)
  • OFT (NO)
  • Escola Secundária Marques de Castilho (PT) – new for 2023-project phase

Associated partners:

  • Scottish Cycling (UK)
  • Edinburgh Napier University (UK)
  • Bike Plan AG (CH)

DIRTT 1.0

 

The DIRTT project (Developing Intereuropean Resources for Trail building Training) springs from the core of Europe’s mountain bike enthusiasts, volunteers, and professionals centered around the European branch of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA Europe). The aim is to develop an educational framework and professional training program for people active in the trail building sector, addressing the needs of professionals and volunteers in the field of of planning, design, construction, maintenance and management of mountain bike trails.

 

PARTNER ORGANISATIONS

 

The partners in the first project represented various background in mountain biking, including advocacy organisations, sports associations, governmental- and educational institutions, tourism, as well as private enterprises in the MTB trail building sector. The countries involved are Switzerland, Portugal, Scotland, Netherlands, Denmark and Norway. The three-year project was coordinated by lead applicant Fagskolen Tinius Olsen, a college of higher vocational education in Norway which developed, and is hosting an educational framework and a professional training program for mountain bike trail builders.

  • Fagskolen Tinius Olsen – Norway
  • International Mountain Bike Association Europe – Netherlands
  • Scottish Cyclists Union / DMBinS – Scotland
  • Edinburgh Napier University – Scotland
  • BikePlan – Switzerland
  • DGI Outdoor – Denmark
  • Município de Águeda – Portugal
  • Opplysningskontoret for Terrengsykling – Norway

 

DEVELOPMENT STAGES OF THE PROJECT

 

  • Defining needs from stakeholders relating to planning construction and management of MTB trails
  • Develop and define the ‘Educational framework’ version 1.0
  • Develop content of the educational framework version 1.0
  • Train key personal at the partnering institutions in the educational framework
  • Update the educational framework into version 2.0
  • Dissemination of project results

 

MIDTERM RESULTS / DELIVERABLES

 

As part of the second work package, a MTB trail sector survey was executed by Napier Edinburgh University to define the training needs of various stakeholders and identify possible skills & knowledge gaps. In total, 121 survey respondents (representing organisations that operate in the domain of trail planning, design, construction and management) from 16 different European countries provided data suitable for inclusion in this project. The main findings of this report are that there is clear demand within the mountain bike trail sector for certified training, and that particular priority is based on the construction and maintenance sectors. Key themes for training requirements included but were not limited to sustainability, safety, drainage, and documentation. The final report is available as download.

 

DIRTT Dissemination Seminar

 

The DIRTT Dissemination Seminar took place between September 7th and 8th at the Vestlia Resort in Geilo, Norway. The Seminar coincided with the start of the 1st European Mountain Bike Trail Planning, Construction and Maintenance study program at Fagskolen i Viken. Attendees were given an opportunity to see first hand what the program entailed, meeting both tutors and students in the field during practical sessions. Over the two days, the project consortium presented and discussed the results achieved by the DIRTT project, outlining how the Educational Framework has been applied, now and in the future.

Click here to see the DIRTT  project main results & resources presentation by project leader Lars Wraae Jensen or read the recap of the full program.

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Fagskolen i Viken European Mountain Bike Trail Builder program.

 

August 2022

 

The study programme for Mountain Bike Trail Planning, Construction and Maintenance is targeted to the competence needs of the new and rapidly growing sector of mountain biking (MTB). The course awards 30 ECTS when successfully completed. The syllabus for the study can be found by clicking here. The course is studied online with evening classes and tutorials scheduled online. However, during this study programme, you will be required to attend a total of four residential weeks. Two sessions (of one week) will be hosted in Geilo, Norway and one session (of two weeks) in Agueda, Portugal.

The study programme is split into three main areas with studies related to the themes of;
1. Mountain bike trail building in society
2. Trail design
3. Construction

All study programs at Fagskolen i Viken are public funded through Viken county. Study material such as books, laptops, photocopying etc. must be covered by the student. In addition, you will need to pay a study fee per semester.

 

Course delivery methods:

 

Online

Most of the course will consist of online learning. The online sessions will largely be pre-recorded allowing students to access them online at time of their choosing. There will be a 2-hour lecture per week with additional time allocated for direct learning and feedback with course tutors each week.

 

On-campus- Geilo, Norway

The Geilo campus of Fagskolen i Viken will play host to the first physical meeting of the students and tutors. With existing mountain bike trails to explore and assess and an abundance of mountain and forest terrain Geilo provides both outdoor and indoor learning opportunities. We will spend 1 week in Geilo in early September.

 

In the field-  Agueda, Portugal

Located 1 hour to the South of Porto International Airport the city of Agueda and the surrounding mountains offer our outdoor classroom and training centre. With 350m of elevation and 18,000 sqm of space to utilize the sessions in Agueda focus on vocational, real-world training where participants will construct and maintain trails. The location and weather allow for all year-round training, the perfect escape from the wet and cold winter in Northern Europe!

 

How to apply:

 

***2023 course dates TBA***