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Gloucestershire Business News

World mountain biking champion backs Forest anti-litter campaign

Environmental charity Hubbub is calling on mountain bikers to significantly reduce litter along popular bike trails this summer as part of its ongoing #LoveYourForest campaign.

The Forest of Dean's bike trails are hugely popular with around 350,000 visits to Forestry England's Cannop Cycle Centre every year - but mountain bikers are trailing trash in their wake including single use plastic packaging from energy bars and drinks. Not only does this mean the forest can't flourish, it could also prove fatal for some local wildlife.

Between 2019-2020, Forestry England spent £60k on waste collection in the Forest of Dean. The local wildlife and environment are also paying a high price for the area's popularity. In fact, it is estimated that much more plastic pollution is introduced to our ecosystems via land than water*.

To inspire bikers to join their movement to tackle the problem, #LoveYourForest has teamed up with world mountain biking champion Katy Curd, among others.

Also joining the anti-pollution peloton are the Forestry England team at Cannop Cycle Centre, Pedalabikeaway café and events, Dean Trail Volunteers, Trash Free Trails and Flyup DownHill shuttle bus, on a number of new interventions to help reduce litter on trails.

There are a variety of ways that the campaign will grow the recycling cycling brigade. World champion mountain biker Katy Curd is offering a coaching session to bikers who enter the #LoveYourForest competition which will require entrants to take a photo of themselves and at least three pieces of litter that they collect from around the trails. Full details on how to enter the competition are on the #LoveYourForest Facebook page.

Katy Curd, who is a long-standing supporter of the #LoveYourForest campaign, said: "It always makes me so sad when I see litter on the bike trails. Not only does litter have a damaging effect on the forest we are lucky to ride in, but it can also cause accidents to those travelling at high speed. We need to make sure that when we are out on our bikes, the only tracks we are leaving are those left by our tyres!"

Other innovations to inspire bikers include:

  • A communal chalkboard where riders can join professional bikers in signing a pledge for a litter free cycle.
  • An art piece created by Amanda Copp, made from an old bike trailer in the design of a boar, to be used as part of the continued litter pick and events organised by Dean Trail Volunteers.
  • New signage at Cannop Cycle Centre, shops and shuttle buses, asking people to take their litter home.
  • Giveaways including reusable cable ties and reusable water bottles to encourage riders to swap their single use items for reusable ones.

250 tonnes of rubbish is removed by the Forest of Dean District Council from the local area every year, costing local taxpayers £450,000 per annum. In 2016, Hubbub and local partners launched the #LoveYourForest campaign to tackle the issue, which in four years has seen more than 1,000 bags of litter collected in the area.

#LoveYourForest is run in collaboration with local employer Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I, Forest of Dean District Council, Forestry England, Foresters' Forest, and Forest of Dean & Wye Valley Tourism.

Abi Arden, project co-ordinator at Hubbub, said: "The #LoveYourForest campaign is now in its fifth year and we have seen many successes during this time. Working with local partners means that we have been able to identify another key area of the forest where litter is still problematic.

"While we appreciate that litter from mountain bikers is often dropped by mistake, there is a solution. By switching to reusable items and carrying lightweight gear to store it in, we hope that bikers will quickly see the benefits this change can have as their favourite trails become less obstructed by litter."

Michelle Norman, director of sustainability at Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I, said: "The #LoveYourForest campaign continues to make a positive impact on our beautiful Forest Of Dean, minimising the worst of the littering from the increasing number of visitors flocking to the Forest.

"We know the vast majority of visitors act responsibly and this targeted initiative invites mountain bikers to help drive the change we all want to see. We look forward to working together to send a powerful message to everyone in the community to help do their bit for our trails, our forests and our planet."

Dan Weston, Cycling Ranger for Forestry England in the Forest of Dean said: "296 million visits were made to the nation's forests during a year of lockdown - that's 35% more than what we have seen in previous years. Cannop Cycle Centre is just one of our sites that has seen a huge surge in popularity.

"While we love welcoming new people, sadly with the extra footfall comes more litter. However, the #LoveYourForest campaign at the Forest of Dean is a leading example of how others can take action to reduce litter in our rural areas, to ensure they can continue to be enjoyed by future visitors and existing wildlife inhabitants."

Earlier in 2021, as part of the #LoveYourForest recycling push, Hubbub installed two new Recycle Reward Machines at the Midcounties Co-operative in Coleford and Dean Heritage Centre, designed to accept empty bottles and cans in exchange for tokens, which recyclers can then use to claim a prize.

For more information or to join the #LoveYourForest campaign, visit: www.hubbub.org.uk/love-your-forest 

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