A multidisciplinary team finding sustainable solutions for natural areas.
For those who don’t know about Floema, what is Floema and how did you get started?
With 15 years of experience, Floema® produces signs, equipment, and urban furniture, using recycled plastic as the main raw material. Focusing on people, nature, and sustainability, as well as sports and tourism, we give priority to the creation of excellent products, which stand out for their durability and maintenance-free characteristic. Floema® was born at the hands of three nature sports lovers who saw an opportunity in the poor quality of signage and equipment present along the trails. They ended up combining their passion for nature, their fascination for product development, and their desire to create a project focused on sustainability while solving an important problem regarding nature sports infrastructures. Over the years, we built a sound position in the market by creating a proposal of sustainable solutions for natural areas that make up a means of enhancing the natural and cultural heritage. Jointly with partners, we aim to help promote biodiversity conservation, a more sustainable way of life, the connection of people with nature, and enhance the economic, cultural, and social development of communities.
What is Floema’s connection to mountain biking?
With a team composed of bike lovers, that ranges from endurance freaks to gravity lovers, Floema was always linked to this sport. From early on, we are committed to sharing our vision and passion for bikes and contributing to the creation of a sustainable network of trails that take into consideration its users and the future viability of the projects. We are part of communities and initiatives connected by the bicycle. Whether from a sporting or educational point of view, we promote and integrate any movement that shares our values and aspirations; that has as its main goal the proliferation of the use of the bicycle for building a more sustainable and healthy way of life, benefiting individuals, communities, and regions.
Portugal has the potential for a great mountain biking offering. How do you envision the development of an attractive and sustainable mountain bike offering in Portugal?
Firstly, we believe that the future lies with the younger generation. We strongly advocate for the trivialization of bicycle use among the younger generation. It is essential to build a passion for bikes in kids, whether on pumptracks, skilltracks, or commuting to school. This will help to create, not just a more sustainable way of life, but also a base for the growth of the sport. On a second note, it is important to develop collaborative projects that involve regulators, promoters, and communities. The communication between these parties is essential to understand the potential of the territories and local communities and to implement viable trails. Also, it’s important that decision-makers perceive the local and national economical impact of a well-constructed and maintained trail network so that investment can be leveraged. Long-term economic and social benefits are proof of how a well structured and implemented project promotes the growth of the communities that host them. Building a network of skilled and certified professionals in trail building and trail management is essential. This will allow for the creation of standardized processes that will ensure the implementation of viable projects and the development of sustainable trails. Lastly, there is a need for continuous activation of the proposal. This is, to create a plan of consistent communication to the endogenous and exogenous populations of the local or national mountain biking offer and the creation of events that appeal to the interest of sports lovers.
What role will Floema play in working towards a more sustainable mountain biking offering?
Since our genesis, we have assumed the commitment to create a team of specialized technicians, capable of creating and managing projects of reference in our country. We believe that the viability of projects relies heavily on a collaborative process and for this reason, we work to build partnerships with entities that share the same passion and motivation for promoting the use of bicycles. The maintenance of the trails, their signage, and of their equipment, is one point that compromises the viability of the projects. In this sense, Floema® has solutions that, besides offering high resistance to intemperies and high durability, do not require maintenance work. Our premise is to develop equipment and signage that integrate into the landscape and are maintenance-free, using recycled plastic as the main raw material. The equipment we develop is a way to help both municipalities and hotels in the regions. The bike stations and the bike parks help to build a complete offer with the needed resources for the maintenance and parking of bicycles.
What are the biggest challenges mountain bike faces in Portugal?
Firstly, it is imperative that municipalities and government entities look at mountain biking as a viable source of income and development for regions and communities. Until there isn’t a recognition of the economic and social benefits of implementing a well-structured trail network, the lack of funding in mountain biking will be a constant.
Secondly, in general projects lack in evolving the community, on qualified management and on continuous promotion/activation. Until now almost all of the projects in Portugal focus only on the infrastructures, and this leads to the known results: projects that don’t work overtime.
The viability of a trail network depends on its correct implementation, management and promotion but the lack of knowledge regarding MTB projects compromises these points. We need to create a network of certified professionals that can spread their knowledge, benchmark Portuguese projects with international best practices, and influence decision makers on adopting a well structured solution.