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Park management response to mountain bike trail demand in South Western Australia

Newsome, D., Stender, K., Annear, R. and Smith, A. (2016) Park management response to mountain bike trail demand in South Western Australia. Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, 15 . pp. 26-34.

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This case study reports on a collaborative approach where over 15 years, land managers employed proactive stakeholder engagement in the development of new facilities for mountain bikers in Western Australia. The collaboration involved a combined management process that resulted in successful funding applications, constructive partnering and the provision of a range of riding opportunities for mountain bikers. This included the development of a user/site compatibility matrix that assists managers in regard to the approvals process for mountain biking access under various land tenures. In addition there was the development of a long-distance mountain biking trail, the Munda Biddi Trail (491 km), an important, and potentially future iconic, tourism resource. Although the process involved in developing the trail demonstrates the success of partnerships between Government Agencies responsible for managing protected areas, mountain bike groups and others, by not setting clearly defined objectives at the start of the process, there were some misunderstandings between stakeholders about the type of trail and the type of mountain bikers likely to benefit from it. Overall the collaborative approach, by providing dedicated facilities at approved sites, appears to have led to a reduction in the impacts of unauthorised damaging activities such as trail modification and the creation of informal trails, highlight the benefits of this type of approach.

Management implications
● Collaboration between managers and mountain bike lobby groups helped clarify differing stakeholder aspirations and intentions in regard to the development of mountain bike facilities in Western Australia.
● To guide the approvals process regarding mountain bike activity a user compatibility matrix was developed to take into account riding preferences, other trail users and the protected area status of government-managed land.
● A trail difficulty grading system was also developed for protected areas in Western Australia.
● Clear objectives in the early planning stages are deemed as vital to the process.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
Copyright: © 2016 Elsevier Ltd
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