As cyclists take part in the six diverse events of the festival’s exciting three day schedule they will come into contact with a variety of ecosystems which host some thrilling single track trails of the festival’s routes but, crucially, also creating a lasting awareness of conservation work being done in the region to help maintain a healthy, diverse environment.

The race organisers have been working closely with the Sappi foresters and scientists in the Karkloof area, bringing an important holistic approach to this year’s mountain biking showcase whilst furthering the forestry giant’s involvement in the sport.

The record field set to take part in this weekend's Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB Festival won't only be treated to a mountain biking feast but will enjoy an environmentally enthralling trip through the exquisite Karkloof region as well.

Impi Concept Events/ Gameplan Media

“While mountain biking has existed on Sappi property for over 20 years, Sappi has recently decided to become more actively involved and has embarked on a strategic path to facilitate the development of safe and enjoyable trail networks across our plantations, which serve mountain bikers, trail runners, hikers and other non-motorised trail users,” said Andre Oberholzer, Sappi Group Head Corporate Affairs.

“Sappi is therefore assuming the official naming sponsor role for the Karkloof MTB festival as a logical expression of our increased engagement with, and commitment to, mountain biking.

“We are also involved in a wide variety of important environmental and conservation projects nationally and specifically in the Karkloof region as well. Our support of the Karkloof Crane and Conservation Centre, the Karkloof Blue Butterfly breeding project and the rehabilitation of the Sappi Shafton Wetland are such examples of our involvement in the area and this year’s Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB Festival will afford riders the opportunity to get a little closer to these and other projects.

Well aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy, balanced environment, not only for themselves but for the sustainability and longevity of all regions in which Sappi’s land exists, the festival’s new partners continue to strive to follow sound forestry practices whilst affording local enthusiasts the opportunity to harmoniously enjoy their land with them and care for the environment always kept top of mind as well.

“In a world that has rightly become much more aware of society’s impact on our natural environment, it has become important for companies to help their stakeholders separate fact from fiction, misperceptions and myths,” added Oberholzer.

“Sappi produces products from a sustainable and renewable resource – wood fibre. Our role as a landowner, committed to the best global environmental management practices, is best showcased by inviting people to come and enjoy some time in our tree plantations and our conserved natural areas.

“We have therefore committed to supporting the trail custodians – clubs and bike parks – in their efforts to develop trails for social and recreational purposes by ensuring that internationally recognised best practices is also applied in this field and that trail networks are accessible to local communities and visitors alike as well as supporting the development of competitive mountain biking in South Africa.

“In doing this we trust that our stakeholders will understand the fundamental commitment we make to being a responsible corporate citizen and that our products and our operations contribute to the building of a low carbon future.

“We believe that closer relationships with the mountain biking community will also assist us in reducing risks related to fire and illegal activities and we look forward to welcoming many more adventure enthusiasts to some of the best mountain biking trails around.

The Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB Festival takes place from 19-21 April at Karkloof Country Club. Riders and spectators alike can stay up to speed with all the news and developments via the event’s Facebook page (Karkloof Mountain Bike Club) or on Twitter (@KarkloofMTB). More info can also be found at www.karkloofmtb.co.za