Julia Simon: Championing biodiversity protection

Five-time world champion Julia Simon champions nature as an ambassador for the French National Forestry Office (ONF), raising public awareness about protecting biodiversity.

Simon, who "grew up in the heart of nature," supports the ONF by leading public awareness campaigns on critical issues like forest fires, especially during extreme heat. “I got involved with the ONF because it makes me more sensitive to the situation and gives me the motivation to do the little things that can perhaps make a difference.”

To inspire young people, she spends time with children in forests, fostering a passion for conservation and environmental stewardship. She also participates in community clean-ups to maintain the cleanliness and health of natural areas by collecting waste left by visitors during winter.

I feel like I am impacted by what’s happening with biodiversity and nature. I train everywhere in France and I see changes and it worries me a bit. At home, in the Beaufortain region of France, we have beautiful forests and mountains, so I try to respect nature. If there is a path during my run, I follow that path instead of disturbing other areas.

Simon leverages her platform to encourage sports events to reduce their environmental impact by promoting positive behaviours among fans and participants.

Forests are essential for me. I have always been attracted to forests, nature, and biodiversity. I think it’s important that we all make small gestures, which are ultimately very simple but can make a big difference.

Ecosystem services for athletes

Supporting the 2021 Total Score Winner Simon's advocacy, the IBU will also explore how healthy ecosystems can support the performance and well-being of athletes like Simon and other biathlon participants. For this reason, the IBU has now joined the Erasmus+ funded BENCHES project.

BENCHES, a three-year project, will investigate the interdependence of sport and ecosystems. It aims to enhance understanding, develop tools, and practices to measure, manage and mitigate sports' adverse impacts on biodiversity.

In collaboration with partners like World Athletics, World Sailing, the Italian Canoe Kayak Federation and the football team of S.L. Benfica of Portugal, BENCHES will produce research papers, reports, and a custom-developed tool for assessing sports' impact on biodiversity and the benefits of ecosystem services.

Photo: Authamayou/NordicFocus

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