Can You Engage in Trekking Without Harming the Environment?

by | Trekking Savvy

 

For many of you who enjoy spending time in nature, hiking, trekking, camping, and caravanning may sound like excellent trip activities. But some of you may wonder whether engaging in activities related to trekking do not harm the environment, as it is well known that many forms of tourism take place at the cost of environmental sustainability. While any encounter between humans and other forms of life can negatively impact that life (or the human one), there are several steps that can be taken in order to ensure an eco-friendly trip. Before we start I should add that I will skip the responsible disposal tip. It is obvious that you can’t do eco-friendly hiking or camping if you will leave anything that isn’t supposed to be there (e.g., Coca-Cola). I will also skip a few pieces of advice that I find exaggerated (e.g., I think the advice “don’t take any wildflower” is exaggerated. That being said, don’t pick more than very few and only pick flowers that are not legally protected because they are in risk of extinction-keep in mind others will pick wildflowers too).

Arguably the first step in ensuring that your trip will be well-received by the ecosystem in which you will emerge is understanding that you are entering into a habitat that may not be adapted to certain aspects of human lifestyle. A good example is human tendency to have pets and bring them with them wherever they go. While your dog, cat, or mouse may enjoy spending some time in a different habitat, you would want to ensure that they will not be chasing other animals-whether for fun or for hunger. In other words, in order to avoid a bloody trip that could make your potentially wowy day into a terrible terrible day, please ensure all your pets are in the right place at the right time (feeding them enough is necessary but not sufficient).

With the image of an adorable wild animal in mind, I strongly advise you to avoid leaving any leftovers from the potentially-delicious food that you have carefully cooked over a fire (or anywhere else). That food could end up in the wrong mouth, meaning you could unintentionally harm an animal by providing access to improper food. With the same image in mind, do not feed any animal if you are not sure that it is from a species that can benefit from the food item that you are trying to provide. With the same image of an adorable wild animal in mind, avoid disturbing nests. While it may be hard to resist looking at eggs or a cute “puppy”, keep in mind that some parents abandon their young if they have been imprinted by a foreign smell.

In order to protect other species, you should also consider what you will leave in any type of water you will encounter on your trekking day. Do your best not to pollute rivers and lakes by leaving anything there that is not supposed to be. Using biodegradable soap is highly recommendable, as it is disposing grey water at several feet/km away (200 feet/60 km plus) from water sources.

Perhaps one of the sources that can lead to the most disastrous disasters is campfires. This happens for several reasons. One reason is that people without campfire experience may believe it is totally OK to start a campfire at a few inches/millimeters from an impressive forest with big trees. In order to avoid burning a forest please avoid this at all costs. Another reason is that people may start campfires even when the wind makes you believe that a few trees will soon fall to the ground. Strong winds can lead to an out-of-control fire even if you have correctly followed the campfire guideline. A yet another reason that may lead to burning forests without planning it is that people may sometimes leave the campfire unsupervised believing nothing will change until they return. No need to say, all fires must be extinguished when leaving the site.

From the mentioned above, it seems that it is possible to engage in trekking without harming the environment. By following a small guideline, you can ensure that you will not contribute or ignore the obvious degradation of different ecosystems around the world. As a trekker, you probably love what you see and you don’t want it to change for the worse. While it is true some advice can seem exaggerated at times (and some may be), they tend to focus on the effects that certain actions have at the collective level. For instance, while you will certainly not harm the environment by picking a flower or a rock (as long as these are not in risk of extinction), if 100,000 people do this, things may change. For this reason, while it is arguably OK to pick few flowers, don’t make a wedding bucket. Also, consult with the legislation that regulates the area where you are going to camp, as in many places there are legal limitations in terms of what you can pick and what you cannot.

It is true that some people believe that the ecosystem constantly heals itself and the clime is not really warming, but don’t believe them. Instead, I would recommend focusing on data and on the ideas of those who are experts in interpreting scientific data. It’s not like you have to fully believe an expert, after all, science revises itself all the time. But while you should not fully believe in anyone and anything, you should try to inquire and inform from different resources and discriminate when possible between more and less credible sources (e.g., an expert in biodiversity and someone who says global warming is a belief spread by the liberal/socialist conspiracy).

It would be cool if you could provide some personal opinions. What do you think about eco-friendly trekking? How do you do it? Do you believe the advice found on the internet (including here) are good and complete? Would you include some other ones? Are some of them exaggerated? Is global warming an idea spread by the liberal/socialist conspiracy? Feel free to answer any of these and add anything you find relevant and have a wowy day!

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