Enhancing mountain trails governance in Europe: Insights from the EUMA ERASMUS+ project


The European Union’s ERASMUS+ project, “EUMA – Improvement of Good Governance of Climbing and Mountaineering in Europe,” is an initiative aimed at enhancing the management and sustainability of mountain trails across Europe. This project, led by the European Mountaineering Association (EUMA), European Ramblers Association (ERA), and their partners, focuses on establishing best practices for trail maintenance, responsible use, and governance, ensuring that these natural pathways remain safe, accessible, and preserved for future generations.

Responsible Use of Trails

One of the project’s core components is promoting the responsible use of trails. Key recommendations for hikers and walkers include:

  1. Preparation: Before embarking on any walking or hiking activity, it’s essential to check maps, trail difficulties, weather conditions, and daylight availability.
  2. Use Marked Trails: Stick to properly marked trails with clear signposts, respecting the current trail conditions to avoid getting lost and to protect the environment.
  3. Waste Management: Carry all waste with you until you can dispose of it properly. Never leave waste behind in nature.
  4. Respect Nature: Protect the flora and fauna along the trails. Remember, you are a guest in the animals’ habitat.
  5. Trail Etiquette: Walk in the middle of the marked trail to prevent erosion and avoid taking shortcuts, which can damage the environment and pose safety risks.
  6. Report Issues: If you encounter any damages or hazards on the trail, inform the responsible organization immediately.
  7. Respect Landowners: Acknowledge and respect private properties along the trails.
  8. No Personal Marks: Do not leave personal signs, graffiti, stickers, or carvings on the trails.
  9. Camping and Fires: Only camp and make fires in designated areas where it is permitted.

Trail Maintenance Guidelines

Maintaining trails is crucial for ensuring their longevity and safety. The project’s guidelines include:

  1. Ordinary Maintenance: Regular upkeep tasks to keep the trail in good condition.
  2. Extraordinary Maintenance: Major repairs or changes needed due to significant damage or wear.
  3. Legislative Compliance: Adhering to national and international regulations governing trail maintenance.
  4. Organizational Responsibilities: Clearly defining the roles and tasks of organizations involved in trail maintenance.
  5. Documentation and Tools: Utilizing comprehensive registries (cadastre of trails) and databases to document trail conditions and maintenance activities.

Mountain Trails Analysis

The “Mountain Trails Analysis” report provides an in-depth look at the current state of trails in Europe, based on extensive surveys and participant feedback. Key findings include:

  1. Trail Categories: Trails are categorized into lowland (<200 m a.s.l.), low mountain range (200-1,000 m a.s.l.), and mountains (>1,000 m a.s.l.) to better understand the maintenance needs and challenges at different altitudes.
  2. Trails on Sealed Roads: Many trails are located on busy roads, which poses significant risks to hikers due to traffic and pollution. Addressing this issue is critical for ensuring hiker safety.
  3. Survey Insights: The survey revealed varied maintenance practices and challenges across countries, emphasizing the need for standardized guidelines and cooperation.

Vision for the Future

The EUMA and ERA envisions a future where European trails are well-maintained, safe, and accessible to all. This involves:

  1. Sustainability: Ensuring trails are preserved for future generations through responsible use and maintenance practices.
  2. Quality and Safety: Maintaining high standards of trail quality and user safety.
  3. Cooperation: Promoting cross-border cooperation and sharing best practices among European countries.


The ERASMUS+ project’s efforts in improving the governance of mountain trails are vital for preserving Europe’s natural heritage and promoting outdoor activities. By following the guidelines and recommendations provided, we can ensure that our trails remain a source of enjoyment and a connection to nature for generations to come. The EUMA and ERA continue to lead these initiatives, fostering a culture of responsibility and respect among all trail users.