ERA Green Trails Initiative

ERA’s Sustainable Hiking Initiative: Paving the way for a greener tomorrow

Welcome to ERA’s Sustainable Hiking Initiative, a visionary initiative aimed at reshaping the future of hiking in Europe. At the European Ramblers Association (ERA), we believe that our love for the outdoors should go hand in hand with our responsibility to protect the environment, celebrate diverse cultures, and empower local communities. This initiative represents our commitment to achieving these goals.

Please note that everything right now are ideas and are in Draft, as we want to discuss the Way Ahead with our member organisations and relevant stakeholders, before we move on.

Our Vision

Our vision is simple yet powerful: to create a sustainable hiking experience that leaves a positive impact on nature, culture, and communities. We envision a Europe where every hiking trail is a corridor of ecological preservation, a pathway to cultural appreciation, and a source of socio-economic vitality.

The Green Trail Certification System

Central to our initiative is the development of the Green Trail Certification System. This system will establish a recognized standard for sustainable hiking trails. It will provide hikers with reliable information about trails, promote eco-friendly practices, and encourage responsible behavior.

The Plan for the Initiative

ERA intends to execute the initiative with a 3-month Pre-project in the first halfyear of 2024 followed by a half-year initiative in the second halfyear of 2024.

Establish ERA Green Trails legally and form a dedicated team to define roles and responsibilities. Investigate and initiate funding to secure initial funds and develop a comprehensive blueprint for the certification platform. Simultaneously, kick-start discussions on sustainability criteria to guide trail assessments.

Half-year initiative plan
The ERA Green Trails initiative aims to be implemented within six months, involving stakeholders, researching existing certifications, developing a conceptual framework, initiating a communication strategy, and assessing feasibility for integration with Leading Quality Trails (LQT). The anticipated outcomes include stakeholder awareness, a project blueprint, a communication plan, and insights into LQT integration feasibility. The next steps involve proceeding with the main initiative, incorporating feedback, adjusting strategies, and ensuring alignment with stakeholders and regulations.

Get Involved

This initiative isn’t just about ERA; it’s about all of us who cherish the outdoors. We invite you, the outdoor enthusiasts, the nature lovers, and the advocates for responsible tourism, to join us on this transformative journey.

Stay tuned for updates and opportunities to participate. Together, we can create a sustainable future where Europe’s hiking trails are preserved, cultures celebrated, and communities thrive.

Contact Us

If you have questions or would like to learn more about the project, please feel free to contact us at

Join us in making a difference. Together, let’s pave the way for a greener tomorrow.

Read more here

Outdoor tourism in Europe is a popular and growing trend. Many travelers are drawn to Europe’s diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and opportunities for outdoor activities.

Europe offers a wide range of outdoor tourism opportunities, including hiking, cycling, skiing, wildlife watching, and adventure sports.

There has also been an increasing interest in sustainable and eco-friendly tourism, which often involves outdoor activities. Travelers are seeking experiences that allow them to connect with nature, reduce their environmental impact, and support local communities.

While outdoor tourism brings numerous benefits, such as economic growth, cultural exchange, and appreciation of nature, it can also pose certain challenges.

Here are some problems associated with increasing outdoor tourism:

1. Environmental Impact: The influx of tourists can put a strain on fragile ecosystems and natural resources. Activities like hiking, camping, and off-road driving can lead to habitat degradation, soil erosion, pollution, and disturbance of wildlife.

2. Overcrowding: Popular outdoor destinations can become overcrowded, especially during peak seasons, leading to congestion, long queues, and a diminished visitor experience. Overcrowding can also increase noise levels, littering, and conflicts between tourists and local communities.

3. Infrastructure Strain: Rapid increases in tourism can strain the existing infrastructure, including transportation systems, accommodations, and facilities like restrooms and waste management. Insufficient infrastructure can lead to inadequate services and a decline in the overall visitor experience.

4. Cultural Impacts: Unmanaged tourism growth can lead to the commodification of local cultures, erosion of traditional practices, and loss of authenticity. Local communities may face challenges such as increased living costs, changes in traditional occupations, and conflicts over resources.

5. Overtourism: Certain popular destinations may suffer from over-tourism, where the sheer volume of visitors overwhelms the carrying capacity of the area. This can lead to increased prices, degradation of local infrastructure, and a negative impact on the quality of life for residents.

6. Unsustainable Practices: Some tourists may engage in unsustainable practices, such as leaving waste behind, damaging flora and fauna, or engaging in illegal activities. Lack of awareness and irresponsible behavior can have long-lasting negative effects on the environment and local communities.

At the core of ERA’s mission is advocating for sustainable outdoor tourism practices.

ERA’s commitment to sustainable trail development offers hikers unparalleled opportunities to immerse themselves in the continent’s most stunning natural wonders.

ERA believes that knowledge is the key to fostering responsible hiking practices. We actively engage in educational initiatives, organizing workshops, training sessions, and awareness campaigns.

ERA recognizes that no single organization can tackle the challenges of sustainable outdoor tourism alone. By fostering collaboration and partnerships, the association would like to bring together member organisations, tourism organizations, environmental groups, and government bodies. Through shared expertise and resources, ERA maximizes its impact, contributing to the development of cohesive and sustainable tourism policies and initiatives throughout Europe.

ERA and the member organisations can play a significant role in addressing the problems associated with increasing outdoor tourism in Europe.

The European Green Deal has relevance to the challenges and goals associated with outdoor tourism in Europe. The Green Deal is a comprehensive roadmap and set of policy initiatives introduced by the European Union (EU) to address climate change, promote sustainability, and transition to a greener economy. By aligning our activities with the objectives and principles of the European Green Deal, ERA can enhance our role in promoting sustainable outdoor tourism and contribute to the broader sustainability goals set by the EU.

ERA can establish trail guidelines and certification programs that encourage sustainable trail development and management. These guidelines can cover aspects such as trail design, waymarking, erosion control, waste management, and safety measures. Certification programs can recognize and promote trails that adhere to sustainable practices, providing hikers assurance of responsible and well-maintained routes.

The certification system developed by ERA could involve a rating or labeling system that indicates the level of adherence to these criteria for each trail. Trails that meet a predefined set of standards could be awarded a certification or label from ERA, indicating their commitment to sustainable hiking and responsible outdoor tourism. The certification process may involve self-assessment by trail managers, site inspections by ERA representatives, and periodic evaluations to ensure ongoing compliance.