As most of you know, NETCO’s vision is to develop a mountain bike trail centre in the North East of Scotland by working closely with the required bodies, including Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS), to realise this. As part of our engagement with FCS, NETCO has been requested to be a sounding board where unauthorised trail building has been undertaken and identified by FCS. FCS have recently highlighted the construction of a trail at Kirkhill forest which runs directly into the Kirkhill forest carpark posing an unacceptable risk both to potential users and other forest visitors! It is also apparent that the section of trail required the unauthorised removal of trees using saws, and the “borrowing” of materials from a nearby major construction site. This trail has clearly had significant time and effort put into it, however because of the identified risks, the FC cannot endorse this construction, and consequently will have to divert resources into dismantling this section of trail. Trails have also been taken down at Hill of Fare recently due to construction using untreated wood, which will present a risk to users as the wood degrades. NETCO is clearly unable to support this sort of trail building and therefore must agree with FCS in their need to remove these trails. Many hours have been put into these trail building efforts, however we would encourage this energy to be channeled into more sustainable and longer lasting projects. We all wish to see new and exciting trails in the area, but NETCO believes this can best be achieved through the building of a strong relationship with FCS, and other landowners. If you have the time and the desire to build or maintain trails we would strongly encourage you to throw your energy behind the NETCO project to get an official and sustainable trail centre developed here in Aberdeenshire. For those of you who still have the desire to get their spades out, then you should be aware of the following:-
The approach that FCS use is described here:
- They connect onto public roads or car parks (safety issue)
- Riders might find themselves crossing/joining forest roads or walking trails at speed or with poor visibility to walkers (safety issue)
- They are built using wood, even ‘found’ material
- They involve the cutting down of trees (commercial issue)
- Stumps, even small ones, are left protruding on the trail (safety issue)
NETCO are aware of many wild trails which provide great riding and yet fall in to the category of “Tolerate and monitor” per the FCS document highlighted above.