MTB Alliance donates more than a million euro for nature restoration projects.

27 March 2024

MTB Alliance donates more than a million euro for nature restoration projects.

Under the watchful eye of multiple world champion road cycling Annemiek van Vleuten, The MTB Alliance Utrechtse Heuvelrug donated over 1 million euro for nature (restoration) projects in the National Park where one of the larger and most popular MTB trail networks is located.

The National Park Utrechtse Heuvelrug has become one of the hotspots for mountain biking in the Netherlands. With a stacked loop trail network that has been carefully developed over more than 10 years, the +130 km of mainly natural surface singletrack connects most of the NP’s adjacent villages and towns, avoiding areas of sensitive nature.

In the past, trail access for mountain bikers had been contested and several years of lobbying eventually resulted in a partnership agreement between the local MTB trail foundation, the NP management, municipalities, the forestry commission and various other (private) landowners. The introduction of a ‘visitor pay back scheme’ for mountain bikers (annual contribution of 7,50 per year per biker) was part of the agreement to get permission for the development of new and the authorization of a few existing trails. Over the years, the system became very successful. Due to the low fee, the willingness to pay by mountain bikers was very high, resulting in sufficient financial resources for trail development projects, the ongoing maintenance and management of the trail network…and more.

Because most of the trail maintenance work was carried out by a large group of enthusiastic volunteers, maintenance costs were kept low, allowing part of the accumulated funds to be reinvested in small scale projects to strengthen nature.

During the covid pandemic, the National Park saw an increase of visitors, including more mountain bikers. While most revenues are directly spent on the development or management of the trails, the partner organisations involved in this alliance agreed on making a huge donation for nature projects, covered by funds accumulated over the last 10 years, simply because conservation and restoration of nature is also in the interest of mountain bikers and future generations.