Walking on the Shoulders of Giants: Historical Mountain Trails as Management Tools?
Book chapter, 2017
Walking in mountains is a way of transport in varied terrain and a means to enhance nature experiences and deepen landscape relations. It is also one of the most popular activities in Swedish outdoor life as well as among international tourists. Mobility has over time and for multiple reasons resulted in a network of trails and pathways – a ‘mobility heritage’. However, this heritage is not static but continuously transformed through new needs and uses, and as such it is a vital component in any reform towards a more sustainable landscape management by and for governing bodies, NGOs, and other interest groups.
Despite multiple users and uses, trails are often discrete, small-scale and with marginal direct effects on local ecology and landscape, although exceptions also exist. However, the long history of multiple actor use of trails and landscapes alongside them, and the reasons and interests behind their location and maintenance, has profoundly affected landscape perceptions over time.
We argue that trails can be used as a tool to engage different interests and to minimize conflicts between different users, while aiming to enhance landscape values for all users. This is highly relevant to various forms of nature conservation, Sami reindeer herding, recreation and tourism. We aim to provide deeper knowledge about trails, conceptually and about their roles, functions, and how this may relate to future management. Against a background of theoretical, historical and empirical approaches to pathways and walking we present our topic through the lens of Swedish mountain trails, with a special focus on Jämtland County. Can the interests of visiting hikers and multiple local and regional interests come to co-exist in a sustainable way by using trails as one main tool?