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Protected Areas

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access and nature

Given that it constitutes their playing field, those practising mountain sports are interested in both promoting rational access to the natural environment and preserving it in the best condition possible.

More than a decade ago, mountaineers began to organise their participation in the management of the natural environment, following the legal channels, and little by little the autonomous mountaineering federations were taken into account as partners in the decision making processes with public authorities when trying to balance conservation with public use of protected natural areas.

From that to hosting, with great enthusiasm, the 1st Seminar on Protected Natural Areas and Mountain Sports in 1999, which for the first time opened up dialogue between sportsmen and managers of protected natural areas in which mountain sports were practised. The experience was repeated with Seminars held in Jaca in 2003, Granada in 2005, Covadonga in 2007, and whilst holding these meetings other sectors held debates on specific issues, such as the refuges of Cangas de Onís, the mountain workers in Gredos, or sustainable climbing in Montesquiu.

The relationship between the autonomous mountaineering federations and the managers of Protected Natural Areas is much healthier now than ten years ago. The autonomous federations are currently represented in the boards (or equivalent bodies) of more than sixty protected natural areas. Most of the protected natural areas are in mountainous regions though some are not, given that rock climbing and walking are possible in coastal areas, at sea level.

The drift of a sports federation whose playing field is non other than the mountains, the natural environment, towards environmental concerns has come about fruit of the dedication of those practicing mountain sports from different autonomous communities who have selflessly, and without remuneration, dedicated their own time to this task. Furthermore, one has to acknowledge that in the last decade, in general terms, the methods legislation have changed which, in some cases, had previously led to arbitrary regulation based on prohibition and not scientific criteria.

Whilst we must all congratulate the tendency towards consensus, we must continue to use existing mechanisms to eradicate the differences in judgement that still exist or arise in some particular places.

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