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Environmental impacts of sports activities on Biodiversity and Ecosystems: management proposals based on scientific knowledge

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The management of sports activities in nature has become in recent years one of the great challenges for environmental organizations competent in the conservation and management of natural heritage and territory. These activities have grown exponentially in the last decade in many countries around the world and particularly in Spain as well. Managers of natural spaces are often overwhelmed by the impacts generated by overcrowding, effects on vulnerable or critical species and formations, degradation of trails, nocturnal effects or conflicts between users. The lack of quality scientific information means that, on many occasions, these managers make decisions to prohibit or limit the performance of these activities out of a precautionary principle. Having reliable scientific data can be of great help to control the impacts generated on the natural environment and ecosystems and facilitate more effective management of sports activities. This project aims to address this challenge and provide quantifiable data that makes it possible to make certain sporting activities compatible with nature conservation. Particularly, we focus on mountain running races and mountain biking, which according to the data of practitioners and competitions held in recent years, and the management problems they present in natural spaces, are two sports of priority interest for the development of a project of this type. Specifically, ECODEPOR aims to study the effects on sensitive faunal and floristic populations in the geographical area of development of sports activities through bioacoustics studies, monitoring of bird nesting, changes in diversity and plant cover, among others; favoring the dispersion of IAS; characterize the effects on the geological heritage and geodiversity, and quantify various parameters of alteration of the conditions of the trails used; and finally analyzing massification and space/time overlap of sporting events through direct consultations with athletes and the analysis of specialized online networks and platforms.


Financing Entity: State Research Agency (MICINN) through PRTR EU funds allocated to Strategic Projects Oriented to the Ecological Transition and the Digital Transition (Call 2021).

Participating Entities: Autonomous University of Madrid. Geological and Mining Institute of Spain, Higher Center for Scientific Research and Rey Juan Carlos University.

Autonomous University of Madrid

Javier Benayas del Álamo
Ana M. Justel Eusebio
Pablo Tejedo Sanz
Miguel Faucha Museo

Other entities:

Luis Carcavilla Urquí, Andrés Díez Herrero (IGME)
Fernando Valladares Ros (CSIC)
Adrián Escudero Alcántara (URJC)