Getting out into nature is great. It’s great for your health, both physical and mental, and it’s also great for the discoveries you make. It’s also not just for you, but for everyone to enjoy and it’s a home for all sorts of wonderful creatures. So, when we are out and about having fun, investigating things or even doing a Roots & Shoots activity, we all need to make sure we have done all we can to enjoy it responsibly.
It only takes a brief look on the news to see what a lack of outdoor responsibility can cause. You’ve probably seen the devastation in California and Australia, but it happens here in the UK too. Fires on Saddleworth Moor near Manchester in 2018 took nearly 3 weeks to put out and at its peak, the fire covered 7 sq miles (18 sq km) of moorland with soldiers drafted in to help tackle it … all started by a bonfire and others by barbecues!
What is outdoor responsibility?
It’s about leaving the places you visit as you found them, or better. Let’s say you visit a nearby woodland one Saturday afternoon to explore, climb some trees and have a picnic lunch. One way to do this is to hack back all the nettles and brambles, and snap of branches that get in your way and then throw your lunch rubbish in a bush, but already you have destroyed a creatures home, damaged a healthy tree and left your rubbish for someone else to pick up … not great so far!
Much better to use existing paths, take care of the tree you want to climb and take your rubbish home.
Respect, protect and enjoy
Forestry England have a forest code with the motto: respect, protect and enjoy. Their website outlines the main things you should have in mind when you visit one of the forests and woodland they look after, but this is a great code to follow where ever you are in the countryside.
Respecting and protecting means doing your best to leave the plants and animals you find undisturbed. It means only having barbecues or campfires when and where where they are allowed and making sure you always have a way to completely put it out afterwards.
Respecting and protecting means keeping dogs under control, for their safety and for other people. It means, taking your rubbish home with you, or maybe even organising a litter pick!
So when you are out and about, enjoy what you find, but make sure it’s still there after you have been for other to enjoy!