Assessing the impacts of mountain biking and hiking on subalpine grassland in Australia using an experimental protocol
MetadataShow full item record
Mountain biking is an increasingly popular, but sometimes controversial, activity in protected areas. Limited research on its impacts, including studies comparing biking with hiking, contributes to the challenges for mangers in assessing its appropriateness. The impacts of mountain bike riding off trail were compared to those of hiking on subalpine grassland in Australia using a modification of a common trampling experimental methodology. Vegetation and soil parameters were measured immediately and two weeks after different intensities of mountain biking (none, 25, 75, 200 and 500 passes across slope, 200 pass up and down slope) and hiking (200 and 500 passes across slope). There were reductions in vegetation height, cover and species richness, as well as changes in species composition and increases in litter and soil compaction with riding. Riding up and down a moderate slope had a greater impact than riding across the slope. Hiking also affected vegetation height, cover and composition. Mountain biking caused more damage than hiking but only at high use (500 passes). Further research including other ecosystems, topography, styles of riding, and weather conditions are required, but under the conditions tested here, hiking and mountain biking appear to be similar in their environmental impacts.
Journal of Environmental Management
Impacts of Tourism