Innovation development in forest ecosystem services: A comparative mountain bike trail study from Austria and Switzerland

Authors: Jerylee Wilkes-Allemann, Alice Ludvig, Karl Hogl.


Year: 2020

Publisher: Forest Policy and Economics Journal




Over the last decade, outdoor recreation has changed from passive (such as relaxation) to much more active (such as mountain biking) activities. Recreational infrastructure, such as mountain bike trails, often consists of technically innovative projects in urban forest areas. However, these projects tend to pose serious challenges to forest managers and forest owners, e.g., liability and cost issues, as well as diverging stakeholder interests. Our research goal is to address the specific governance processes, seeking to tackle such challenges and develop and implement recreational infrastructure. We examine two questions: (i) what led to develop the innovation and (ii) how were negotiations transformed into satisfying results considering their challenges? The article analyzes innovation from a governance perspective, considering stakeholders, stakeholder interactions and the outcomes of these interactions. Based on case studies concerning the establishment of two mountain bike trails located in urban forest areas of Austria and Switzerland, we examine the role innovation plays and analyze the underlying decision-making processes. This research is based on several empirical sources, including seven semi-structured interviews. The findings suggest that (i) the processes underlying and surrounding the conflicts have reached unexpected complexity, (ii) the solutions found have high innovation potential in terms of the resulting institutional and organizational changes, and (iii) the trails and their institutional arrangements are subject to constant change and thus may be considered dynamic processes.