Is the evolving sport of mountain biking compatible with fauna conservation in national parks?
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Historically, most people have tended to visit national parks for 'rest, relaxation and reinvigoration', typically resulting in moderate ecological impacts. However, increasingly, recreation in natural areas is including 'adventure' sports. One such recreation/sport that now incorporates a range of forms, including adventure derivatives, is mountain biking. In the more extreme forms, riders use extensive trials, often with steep segments and natural or human-made obstacles demonstrate technical skills (e.g., balance, calculated risk-taking, excitement, speed). Appreciation of the natural environment is seldom, if ever, a reason for participation. In this paper we consider the potential for impact on the fauna of national parks. While there is a dearth of information on the impact of mountain biking, we conclude that park management needs to be strategic in their consideration of the issues associated with mountain biking or the outcome will be further degradation of natural areas and, at the least, loss of many animals if not major threats to populations.
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