May 3, 2022

The Protect & Preserve Award

Encouraging environmental consciousness and action in the Mountain Biking Community


***Deadline for applications is July 8th.


IMBA Europe strongly believes that both conservation and restoration practices are an integral part of how we should approach trail maintenance. As an organisation we have been inspired by stories of trail crews across Europe and the UK who are making a positive impact on their local trails; through community led conservation or restoration projects. This is something we really wanted to focus on during this year’s Take Care of Your Trails. The Protect and Preserve award is an opportunity for crews to look beyond the trails; to act and inform themselves better of these natural environments. 


The award is worth €2.500 which will enable the successful applicant to undertake a study/ lead a conservation or restoration project in their local area. 


Making a difference in your community.


The question we need to ask ourselves as mountain bikers (and citizens) is what will be the biggest threat to our sport in the future? Growing populations, less available publicly owned spaces to recreate in, tighter restrictions perhaps. But what about Climate Change? If we look to our neighbours in Scotland, the impacts of storm Arwen in November 2021 wiped out complete trail networks. Trail networks aside, this climatic disaster saw some 4,000 hectares, equivalent to 8,000 trees damaged, not to mention the damage caused to the livelihoods of so many citizens. So, what is our role as mountain bikers in all of this? According to a study led by Napier University, in which IMBA Europe contributed – European mountain bikers care about the sustainability of the natural environment. Self-reported attitudes and behaviours suggest a willingness to reduce environmental impact and actively protect nature. Then we need to ask ourselves why don’t we hear more about the so-called environmental conscious mountain biker? And why don’t we see more projects being led by the mountain bike community?


Specialized Soil Searching & Patagonia to fund Protect and Preserve award


If funding is the reasoning behind not pursuing a conservation or restoration initiative, the Protect and Preserve award will hopefully help get your project proposal off the ground. The aim of the Protect and Preserve award is to support and promote community led conservation and restoration projects in the mountain bike community. Who better to apply for this award than the trail builders themselves, the people who give so much to the trails. This is a great opportunity for a trail building community to learn more about their local environment, and the impacts associated by Outdoor Sports on these environments.  


Need some inspiration or examples of community led conservation of restoration projects?


Highlighted below are some examples of community led conservation projects led by outdoor sports communities. Draw inspiration from these projects, and then think about what is currently happening in your natural space. Reach out to the park/land management team and see if there are any projects in the works that you could take the lead in. Maybe just the effort of recruiting volunteers from your community could mean the difference in getting a project proposal off the ground for these land managers. Get creative, think outside the box, and inform yourself.

  • Trail feathers – Cairngorms Capercaillie Project- Helping capercaillie and the mountain biking community to thrive alongside each other in the Cairngorms.
  • BMC – The Climate Project is a BMC campaign to support the work of Moors for the Future. Out on our wild moorlands grows an amazing plant called sphagnum. When sphagnum is growing healthily, this little plant powerhouse takes as much carbon out of the atmosphere as a tropical rainforest.
  • Climbers for bat conservationclimbers, bat biologists, and land managers are working cooperatively to understand bat roosting ecology and identify new roosting populations along cliff walls and boulders.


Project Proposal


You should show how this project proposal will bring a real benefit to the area you are working in/recreating in. What are your motives for applying for this award? What do you hope to achieve from receiving this award?


Your application should include identifiable and measurable outcomes to show how your project will address either protecting, enhancing or restoring threatened key species, habitats or broader ecosystems in wild spaces.


Project name:


  1. Project summary
  2. Overview of project
  3. Overall project goal and outcomes
  4. Plan of action
  5. References 


Your application should include identifiable and measurable outcomes to show how your project will address either protecting, enhancing or restoring threatened key species, habitats or broader ecosystems in wild spaces.


Share the results of your project!


The eventual winner of the ‘Protect and Preserve’ award will be asked to provide a short written report and video to show the outcomes of their project. Both the report and video will be used by IMBA Europe as a case study demonstrating the positive environmental impacts a strong and active mountain bike community can have on the natural environment.