Enjoying natural areas and leaving them in pristine condition
The best and most beautiful things in the world
cannot be seen or even touched -
they must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller
There are many different reasons why people head into natural areas to go bushwalking. Maybe to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday city life, maybe to clear the mind, maybe to get fresh air and exercise, or simply appreciate the beauty of nature. Whatever the reasons for heading into the bush, going there brings a unique connection to it, and nothing is more heartbreaking than seeing natural areas trashed by current and previous visitors.
Natural areas in Australia are important habitat for native wildlife including vulnerable and endangered wildlife. Having negligible impacts on natural areas is more than just carrying out rubbish. It extends to how much noise the group makes – maybe yelling at someone at the front of the group scared away a bird from its nest and young?- or even the smallest disturbance to rocks – perhaps that forced an insect out into an area where it is unprotected from predators.
Visitors to natural areas have a responsibility to help protect these areas from any degradation by following basic minimal impact bushwalking principles. Leave No Trace Australia is an organisation dedicated to inspiring and promoting responsible use of the outdoors through research, partnerships and education. It’s a national non-profit group that runs workshops and courses on the subject of minimal impact bushwalking.
The Leave No Trace guidelines describe best practice for visiting natural areas. They consists of seven principles:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Consider hosts and other visitors
Check out this interactive website for tips on keeping natural places wild.