Robert Bob Proudman, director of conservation operations for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), was featured as the keynote speaker for the International Forum for the Mentougou National Trail in Bejing, China this past spring. The Mentougou National Trail is expected to be Chinas first National Trails System, a network of scenic, historic, and recreation trails for the public to enjoy.

The International Forum for the Mentougou National Trail is responsible for the promotion and construction of Chinas first national trails system.  The audience included over 250 forestry and park officials from across Bejing.

The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) and the work of the ATC has served as a global model of how a long distance hiking trail can be constructed, maintained, and protected through the dedication of countless volunteers, agencies, and partners. Proudman provided the audience insight on the  history of the A.T., how the Trail was constructed and cared for, and the economic benefits this Trail provides to the US.

Proudman is the author of the ATCs Appalachian Trail Design, Construction and Maintenance and also helped found the ATCs corridor monitoring program, trail crew programs, ridgerunner and caretaker programs, as well as major government-funded procurement programs for removing structures and dams along the Trail. He has worked nationally and internationally as a consultant, trail designer and recreational safety expert.

It was an honor to be invited to represent the United States, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Appalachian Trail at The International Forum for the Mentougou National Trail, said Bob Proudman, Director of Conservation Operations for the ATC. Were excited that China is giving its population and tourists an outlet for outdoors activities.

Other speakers who presented at this event included Lin Haozhen, head of the Taiwan Forestry Bureaus Luotung Forest District and Dr. Yuren Guo, a professor from Taiwan.

It has not been made clear by authorities at the International Forum for the Mentougou National Trail where the trail will run or how long it will extend, but in keeping with the cultural identity of the area, the trail will feature the Jingxi Ancient path, a 9.3 km path built during the Yuan Dynasty around 700 years ago and used to transport coal to Beijing.

The value of this trail system to citizens of China and beyond will be of natural, cultural and economic significance. The Mentougou National Trail system hopes to bring nature based tourism to the city of Bejing and the Mentougou district.  It will also provide the local population a chance to get outside and connect with nature similar to the way the A.T. provides for its Trail users.