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Mountain Bike Activity in Natural Areas: Impacts, Assessment, and Implications for Management

A case study from John Forrest National Park, Western Australia

This report addresses mountain biking as a recreational activity by examining styles of riding and the corresponding demands of riders. It also identifies the major impacts of mountain biking and explores potential management techniques for developing sustainable mountain biking activities in natural areas.


Mountain bike activity in natural areas


A literature review was conducted into the biophysical and social impacts of mountain biking in Australia and around the world. It provides the basis for an impact assessment method that could be applied to mountain biking in natural areas. Mountain biking is increasing in popularity in Australia and this is adding to the demand for more space in natural areas for recreational activities. Mountain biking can impact on the environment but the extent of the activity is not fully understood. This situation constitutes a problem for natural area managers, as impact information is needed to ensure mountain biking in natural and protected areas is sustainable. This report addresses mountain biking as a recreational activity looking at the styles of riding and the corresponding demands of riders. It also identifies the major impacts of mountain biking and potential management techniques for developing sustainable mountain biking activities.

A rapid assessment tool, using GPS and GIS, was developed to quantify the effects of mountain biking in natural areas and tested in John Forrest National Park, where mountain bike created informal trails and modifications to existing trail systems is acknowledged as a problem by Park management. This assessment tool can effectively quantify the actual area impacted by the creation of mountain bike specific informal trails and associated trail modifications. It also provides management with informative and interpretive maps of the impacted area.

Published June 2009

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