This concept highlights ways that hikers and adventurers can enjoy outdoor activities while causing as little adverse effects to the environment as possible. Here are some of the most important points from these principles and an examination of how they might affect the way we approach our relationships with the outdoors.
Stay on the trail
Our beaches are eroding at alarming rates. New Zealand alone has lost as much as 70 percent of its coastline in the last century. Some of this is of course due to natural environmental changes, but most of it stems from our interactions with the land.
Of course we want to get to the water as fast as possible, but leaving the clearly designated walkways are extremely hazardous. Domestic vegetation, such as marsh and dune grasses, help keep the sand from blowing away, and when we walk or run on it before it has taken root we prevent it from growing.
And this is not just a beach problem. Everything from hiking to off-trail mountain biking can have significant impacts on the natural world. A rule of thumb when you are visiting such fragile ecosystems is to always stay on designated paths. Coming equipped with the proper gear such as heavy-duty polarized sunglasses and flashlights will make sure you can see where you are stepping in all types of lighting conditions.
Curb, ahem, your waste
Remember, we all share the environment. Most of us know to reduce our waste and pick up any trash we leave behind, but have you thought about our natural waste? While some green publications might advise digging a small cat-hole for your fecal matter and other human wastes (four to ten inches deep and two hundred feet from any water supply, trail, or camping ground) there is no cleaner way to remove a dirty business than finding any one of the many environmentally friendly bags to remove your waste yourself.
Know the neighborhood
Now that weíve covered waste, letís talk about something else a bit dirty. Mating season. When heading out into nature, itís important to recognize which animals you might encounter. Nature involves balance, and it is easy to throw off an animalís natural cycles, especially during rutting seasons, when they tend to be skittish, aloof, shy, or easily angered. Itís best to leave an animalís habitat alone during delicate seasons. Also, itís always a good practice to avoid hydrating at the local water supply during dusk and dawn when most animals are more active.
At the campsite
There are plenty of places to tip up on ďlow impact camping,Ē but perhaps one of the more interesting is in regards to ďsolar cooking.Ē Many campers have found that they can successfully cook camp meals without the need of traditional camp stoves that use up precious natural resources. Instead, they utilize our most natural – and abundant – fuel source, the sun.
Mosquito repellents can be full of harsh chemicals, so itís best to avoid behaviors that might attract them such as dark clothing, heat, moisture, and floral scents left behind from fabric softeners and laundry detergents. Cedar or cinnamon oil are good natural repellents.
Finally, remember that setting up a tent causes irreversible damage to the land, so itís better to use a pre-established site while camping than trailblaze a new one for your sleeping quarters.
For many of us, a love of nature is in our blood. With a bit of forethought, that love can shine through in our actions as well.