Advocacy in the spotlight
Member of the month – highlighting the advocacy work of our national and associate members across Europe.
- Firstly, could you please introduce yourself and your organisation (IMBA Italia)? How did you come to be the president of IMBA Italia?
First of all thank you for this opportunity to present the work that we are doing in Italy with the amazing local clubs that support us, we look forward in reading stories from all the other members in the months to come!
I am Edoardo Melchiori and I love mountain biking and spending time in the outdoors. Around 2010 I wrote an email to IMBA US to get involved with IMBA and in 2012 I was happy to be invited to a “special meeting” in Zurich where the foundation of IMBA Europe was the main topic on the table. In that occasion I’ve got the chance to meet amazing individuals from all over the world all driven by the same passion for mountain biking, nature and trails. I was hooked!
One thing led to another and in 2014 I was part of a small group of people that started developing the seed of IMBA Italia that launched at the beginning of 2015. The following years we established strong bonds with local clubs supporting them in advocacy and trail projects, trained hundreds of volunteers and aspiring professionals on the basics of sustainable trail building and connected with numerous national public bodies to help them develop better MTB infrastructure.
In 2020 we went back to the drawing board in order to get a more robust internal structure that would withstand our growth in the next years and that’s around that time that new board members joined the team and I’ve stepped up as the President of IMBA Italia.
IMBA Italia President, Edoardo Melchiori
- Could you tell us a bit about your organisation’s vision and ambition? And/or any relevant projects you’re working on?
Our vision is aligned with IMBA Europe’s one and in short is preserving and improving mountain biking experiences in a sustainable way with respect for the environment. With almost a decade of trail building events organised all over Italy thanks also to the support of local clubs we have been able to establish IMBA Italia as a renewed body for sustainable multi use trail maintenance and trail building training.
We have a few projects in the pipeline, one is the creation of a shared indexed knowledge hub where local clubs can access and share best practices, document drafts, details about regional specific trail and MTB related laws and so on. This is a project that we believe will enable more cooperation between local clubs and of course IMBA Italia making the most of the available resources.
- What have been your major achievements or successes you’d like to highlight?
We are very proud of our annual IMBA Italia Gathering, the second edition was hosted in 2022 by Valdaora, Kronplatz Plan de Corones (Brunico) where over one hundred bikers signed up to learn more about IMBA Italia and our projects as well as to discover the beautiful trails and landscapes of the local bike park.
In that occasion we’ve had a very stimulating round table with our supporters and representatives from some of the best trail areas in Italy to discuss the role of IMBA Italia in helping them to shape the future of MTBiking in Italy. Plus we might also have had some drinks and fun on the bikes. We are already working on the third edition that will be in the fall, location to be announced in February so stay tuned!
- Major challenges you’ve faced in past or present?
By far the biggest challenge for us is to keep up with all the work that needs to be done with the limited staff and time that we have: advocacy, fundraising, growing our network of supporters and so on.
Luckily word of mouth from local clubs already engaged with IMBA Italia help us multiply our efforts!
- Collaborations with other organisations that helped you along the way?
Above all IMBA Europe that have over the years supported us in so many ways in growing and getting more projects on the ground.
At a national level all local clubs and passionate trail advocates that help us every day to promote sustainable mountain biking and trail care as well as doing crucial advocacy work that involves endless meetings, mediations and all the not so glamorous stuff that is so crucial to have more and better trails close to home!
Above all, to name just a few, Valceresio, Consorzio Zena Trail Builders, Bikebernina, Caprione Outdoor, Machete Team, Maglia Nera and West Coast Trails have been relentlessy working with us towards better trails for all users.
- What’s needed in your country to fully unlock the potential of mountain biking??
A national law on recreational trail use that clears land owners from liability would unlock many volunteer led trail maintenance projects. It’s a big lobbying effort nevertheless.
- How can local groups or individuals support or get involved in the work of IMBA Italia?
Local groups and clubs can support IMBA Italia with an annual donation that unlocks many perks including the access to resources tailored for them as well as the opportunity to join our monthly online meeting where we keep them updated on the latest IMBA Italia projects, discuss collaboration ideas and all things trail related, come join us!
- In 2023, IMBA Italia will … ?
We are wrapping up the events calendar for this year that we will publish in the next couple of weeks as well as working on the 2023 IMBA Italia Gathering and the national knowledge hub infrastructure that we plan on releasing by the end of the year.