What are the perceived impacts of Outdoor Sports in Protected Areas?

7 April 2022

What are the perceived impacts of Outdoor Sports in Protected Areas?


Perceptions about Outdoor Sports by Protected Areas Managers


The SEE Project aims to tackle the uncoordinated approach to the teaching and communication of environmental ethics in the spheres of outdoor sport and recreation.

Through IMBA Europe’s involvement in the Transnational Erasmus Project- The Sustainability and Environmental Education in Outdoor Sports- we have gained a greater understanding of what our perceived impacts are within Protected Areas. This project has given the Sporting Sector and Environmental Sector a platform to have important conversations and formulate solutions to protect the future of Protected Areas in Europe. We can only continue to enjoy these outdoor spaces if we do so in a sustainable respectful manner.

Is it a perception thing?

A big challenge we face as mountain bikers, is the perception that as a community we have a disregard for the environment and are unaware of our impacts on the environments. Of course, within any community, there are always going to be people who do the wrong thing; sometimes intentional, but mostly unintentional simply due to lack of knowledge and understanding. Unfortunately, mountain biking often makes the news for the wrong reasons, and the inspiring and positive stories are often untold. Every outdoor sport has some form of impact on the environment, there is no denying or refuting this fact. The questions we need to ask ourselves is how can we better prevent or mitigate these impacts; how can we better communicate this to the outdoor community and what tools can we provide?

During the first phase of the SEE project, partners created a survey to collect information from Protected Areas across Europe to learn about the various impacts of outdoor sports in nature and to identify innovative practices to effectively manage them. The results of this survey highlighted that mountain biking and hiking were the two sports identified as having the greatest perceived impact. Erosion, disturbance of wildlife and over-crowding were the top 3 identified perceived issues in relation to mountain biking. The outcomes of this survey were analysed in a report – Perceptions of Outdoor Sports by Protected Area Managers– and will assist in the preparation of a toolkit for outdoor sport trainers and educators. The aim is to effectively educate outdoor sporting practitioners into more sustainable, respectful, and enjoyable experiences of being active in nature.

The purpose of this report is to provide an overview and initial analysis of the data collected.

Read the full report below.