World Trails Network (WTN)
The World Trails Network strives to connect the diverse trails of the world to promote the creation, enhancement, and protection of outstanding trail experiences. The World Trails Network brings trail associations, trail advocates, walkers, hikers and people passionate about the outdoors together from around the world to foster global collaboration and networking for the betterment of the world’s trails.
“The world is a big place and yet trails traverse almost every known land. The World Trails Network works to sustain a globally significant trails industry by strengthening regional trail initiatives and organisations, while advocating at an international level for trail-friendly policy and on-going quality and sustainable trail development, which protects local culture and surrounding biodiversity, while affording access to trails for everybody. Our Regional Networks are the vital nodes that make this innovative network what it is, giving it strength, focus and relevance.”
Galeo Saintz – Founding Chair, World Trails Network
Vision and Philosophy
The World Trails Network envisions a globally active network of diverse, high quality, environmentally sustainable trails that work in their own regions to further the interests of the trails industry for the benefit of all.
The World Trails Network fosters global collaboration and networking among all trail types that serve to connect people with nature, the outdoors and cultural heritage around the world. The Network encourages: care for the environment; sustainable development practices; sharing best management practices and trail research; a commitment to quality experiences; connections with communities; accuracy of information; promotion of cross-marketing opportunities; and through sharing the common values of world trails, promoting active lifestyles in the outdoors and nature.
“What a joy it is to feel the soft, springy earth under my feet once more, to follow grassy roads that lead to ferny brooks where I can bathe my fingers in a cataract of rippling notes, or to clamber over a stone wall into green fields that tumble and roll and climb in riotous gladness!” Helen Keller, deaf & blind lecturer, 1880—1968
Hiking and walking are one of the most popular forms of outdoor recreation activities, and surveys reflect this popularity. Hiking combines several pursuits – an interest in scenery, wildlife, solitude, and discovery – all in a low-impact form of healthy recreation. Wilderness experiences are sought out by hikers to relieve stress, and outdoor experiences have been shown to decrease attention deficit disorder, obesity, and depression. Hiking and walking potentially reduces healthcare costs. Being outdoors promotes self-reliance and an increased awareness of one’s own coping abilities. Low-impact outdoor recreational pursuits, such as hiking and walking, also contribute to local economies, helping both developed world and developing world communities establish sustainable economic growth.
It is timely that the WTN, with over 40 members, has formed a global collaboration to inspire the enhancement of all trails and to raise the profile of hiking and walking trails specifically as community enhancements, while striving to protect unique worldwide natural and cultural assets. This collaboration is a strategy that works across geographic and language barriers to support member organizations. The Network is galvanizing the expertise of hiking and walking trail leaders to create a dynamic and inspiring future for trail development, enhancement, and promotion.
This collaboration will effectively tell a story about the benefit of trails at a scale that no one participating organization can accomplish alone. This international network is an opportunity to capture global environmental stories as told from the perspective of hikers and walkers around the world as they experience some of the world’s most precious, culturally unique, and compelling landscapes. The Network has promise to become a voice that advocates for the protection of trail landscapes and experiences.
World Trails Network’s immediate priorities are to:
- Continue to host annual conferences that bring trail organizations together for learning and peer engagement, encouraging a robust and healthy international trails culture.
- Conclude sponsorship and funding to appoint a communication specialist who will publish short social media and traditional media articles, research international trail developments, and share connections and inspiring stories from around the world with the Network through dynamic and engaging communication strategies.
- Bring youth into the Network, to foster future trail managers and inspire global trail connections, by supporting an International Youth on Trails program.
- Continue to champion our signature Friendship Trails program and grow support for our international Volunteers on Trails project.
Image by: Stefan Stefancik cc