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A guide to good practices for holding mountain races in protected natural areas

Experts from the UIAA member federation FEDME (Federación Española de Deportes de Montaña y Escalada) have collaborated with a number of bodies, notably Europarc-Spain, in producing a paper which underlines the good practices for holding mountain running competitions in protected natural areas. The document is available to download in English here.

As the document’s Executive Summary states: The popularization of mountain races has grown so rapidly that it may imperil the conservation of some of the natural areas they run through. The tendency to carry out these activities in attractive landscapes has, on many occasions, led to the use of protected natural areas as the setting. The authorizations granted by the environmental administrations adapted to the different proposals submitted as no task of common reflection had been undertaken. For all these reasons, the administrative bodies currently managing natural areas, the sports federations and other collectives broadly coincide on the need to regulate these events with the aim of maintaining both the benefits this sporting activity produces and the conservation of the environment in which these events take place, and which constitutes the fundamental purpose of their existence as protected areas.”

The paper was developed following discussions at the CIMA (International Mountain Conference) in 2015. During which time, experts from several natural protected areas asked to develop an agreement to ensure the hosting of mountain races and other sporting activities become compatible with the conservation of the heritage values of the protected areas. In achieving this, that these events contributed to the conservation and dissemination of the objectives and values of the protected areas.

Furthermore, that organizers, participants and those accompanying them, the local population and society in general are educated about the awareness of the importance of the protected areas as places that are essential for our health and quality of life, because they provide us with a whole range of environmental services (drinking water, clean air, regulation of climate change, control of floods and erosion, etc.), as well as cultural and spiritual services.

The paper is fruit of nine months of meetings between managers of protected areas, experts from the FEDME access team, mountain race bodies, universities in Spain and Europarc-Spain. It is an agreement by consensus, providing guidelines on how to organize mountain races with consideration for the environment and specific local characteristics.

FEDME produced the English translation of this document, to help broaden the reach of this message to ensure sport and nature can continue to coexist in harmony.

Download the paper here.