OBSERVE > UNDERSTAND > ACT
THE STATE OF OUR TRAILS.
From the moment Trash Free Trails began to form back in 2013, we made a promise to ourselves that we would be led by robust scientific evidence. There are a number of reasons behind this, however two stand out from the crowd.
To respect the donation of time, talent and passion that our volunteers make by squeezing every last drop and layer of purpose out of their actions.
To ensure that our projects are created in response to clear evidence of need and are delivered in a way that enables to measure our progress.
TFT x BANGOR UNIVERSITY
What we didn’t know back in 2013, was that we would have to create that evidence ourselves due to an almost complete lack of science on the impacts of single use pollution on our terrestrial ecosystems. This surprising realisation, coupled with a sense of dissatisfaction with the, seemingly 'off target' science that looks at the role that nature connection might be able play in our work, led us to establish the State of Our Trails (SoOT) Report project.
Working in partnership with Bangor University, the SoOT Report will be our ‘hub’ project until 2030, acting much like it’s cycling namesake it will be fueled and driven with citizen science data gathered during our people powered projects throughout each year. Then, the careful analysis of this data enables us to create an evidence based plan for our next cycle of projects.
WHAT DO WE KNOW SO FAR?
As mentioned above, it is now clear that there is both; a pressing need for research and an opportunity to utilise community driven, citizen science to facilitate sustainable environmental stewardship. This research project aims to harness the surge in the popularity of mountain biking and the growing public appetite to reconnect with nature (Richardson et al., 2019) to address the paucity of understanding of the impacts of single use pollution on terrestrial ecosystems (De Souza et al, 2018).
Surprisingly little is known about why people litter, and even less is known about the ecological impacts of doing so. This research will address some of these increasingly important knowledge gaps, such as;
Why do the very people who travel to enjoy wild spaces then drop litter in them?
How do people feel when they see litter?
What are the ecological impacts of littering?
How can we help people feel more connected to our wonderful parks, hillsides, forests, and coastal trails to encourage changes in behaviour?
These are just a few of the questions we desperately need answers to, especially as we tentatively leave behind the restrictions of the pandemic and we all look to our wonderful local wild spaces for socialising, exercise, and relaxation.
AIMS & OBJECTIVES
To establish a baseline understanding of the impacts of single use pollution on mountain bike trails, with the purpose of informing a sustainable plan to reduce litter and increase stewardship of the natural world through citizen science.
To understand attitudes towards litter, of current and potential trail users', with a focus on examining the efficacy of conventional ‘anti-litter’ initiatives.
To establish a baseline understanding of the impacts of litter upon trails through; a) Citizen science surveys and monitoring. And, b) Ecological surveys and soil analysis.
Investigate the wider benefits associated with participation in pro-environmental activities by examining; environmental concern, emotional wellbeing, nature connection and motivations for continued participation.
Demonstrate the importance of environmental stewardship and citizen science in modern conservation and produce a ‘pathways to impact’ strategy to inform the creation of TFT’s ‘2025 Action Plan’ and facilitate the continuation of the academic research pioneered in this study.
In short, we've got plenty to be getting on with (and that's not even counting our nature connection, sustainable events and education research!), so we'd better get cracking....
WANT TO BECOME A CITIZEN SCIENTIST?
As with all of our work, the SoOT Report will not and should not work without a veritable army of volunteer citizen scientists, who are willing to put a little extra effort and thought into their trail cleans.
n short, we've got plenty to be getting on with (and that's not even counting our nature connection, sustainable events and education research!), so we'd better get cracking, here's a couple of ways you can join in straight away.
Submit your trail clean data 24/7/365 HERE.
Step-up and volunteer to lead a community lead trail clean and record and report your findings!
If this sounds like something you'd be up for then please drop firstname.lastname@example.org a line