Protect Nature and Reduce Your Footprint
As a nature addict I try and do my part to protect nature whenever I can. With climate change, a growing human population, and a society that continues to produce mass amounts of waste, it is imperative to find ways to reduce your footprint on nature.
Nature is a precious thing. National Park, nature reserves, and conservation areas are created to protect slices of our beautiful untamed Earth. Visiting them is not a right, it is a privilege. And I encourage you to do your part to protect nature, especially when visiting these green gems. So, I have for you 5 easy ways to help reduce your footprint on nature, and protect nature for generations to come.
5 Ways You Can Protect Nature
1. Track Waste Out
This is two-fold. Not only should you reduce your impact on nature by ensuring you don’t leave any waste behind, but as stewards of nature we should be doing our part to eliminate any waste we find left by others.
Whether you’re hiking, camping, or enjoying the great outdoors in another way, be sure to collect any waste you’ve brought into the wilds and track it out. If you’ve got wrappers from protein bars for your hike or food waste from a picnic, be sure to collect it all up and bring it either back to the park or reserve’s garbage, or better yet bring it home so you can recycle and compost your waste. This may seem like common sense but sadly not everyone does.
Did you know it takes a pop can 200-500 years to break down, but if recycled it can be reused within 6 weeks?
And because not everyone does, another way you can protect nature is by carrying an extra garbage bag with you. I always carry a small bag with me in my day pack in case I encounter the dreaded litter bug. Whether its empty pop can, plastic water bottles, or food wrappers, I pick them up with the bag and track it out with me.
2. Stay on the Trail
Staying on the marked trail is more important than you realize. Marked trails are set up for many reasons. Trails are set to ensure your safety from dangers off the trail, like poison ivy and crevices. They also help you stay on course and not get lost.
But more importantly, trails are set up where they are to protect nature too. Across our parks and conservation areas there are plants and animals, and trees that are delicate. And trespassing through these areas can cause irreparable damage to already endangered and threatened species, like calypso orchids on Flowerpot Island in Tobermory, Canada.
3. Visit during Off-Peak Times
Peak-times for most parks, conservation areas, and nature reserves is during the summer months and on weekends. When more people are off work, schools are out and warmer temperatures ignite, everyone descends on the parks on mass. This amount of people puts pressure on nature.
So, consider visiting in the off-season. In the winter you could go snow-shoeing, in the spring you can enjoy hiking to see nature’s first blooms, and in the fall you can grab your camera for some breathtaking fall foliage shots. Also, try avoiding weekends by visiting during the week when there are less people, or earlier in the morning and later in the evenings. Plus, visiting parks during off-peak times means you’re more likely to have the beautiful great outdoors all to yourself.
4. Wash Footwear
You may not even realize the potential damage you’re doing by visiting a new park to hike with your trusty yet dirty hiking boots. By continuously wearing your hiking shoes from one park to another you may be inadvertently tracking plant and seed species into new environments. Not all parks and conservation areas are home to the same plant species. And by bringing in different species that don’t belong in this new environment you could be introducing an invasive species. Invasive species create an imbalance and in turn cause harm to native species and can even disrupt native wildlife.
Did you know that over 100 non-native plant species can be found in Banff, Kootenay and Yoho National Parks?
So, be sure to wash your footwear between hikes to ensure you’re reducing your footprint on nature.
5. Respect Wildlife
It’s a dreamy thought to be able to have a close encounter with wildlife. But please be conscious that they are wild animals. They deserve space and should only be observed from a safe distance. Please refrain from picking up snakes, frogs, and other wildlife. Disease can go either way, from you to it and from it to you.
Also, refrain from feeding wildlife. And this doesn’t mean stop feeding backyard birds seeds from bird feeders. I’m speaking of people’s urge to feed squirrels, waterfowl, and other wildlife. Especially, stop feeding waterfowl bread. It has no nutritional value and can cause a multitude of health problems, including deformities. They can also choke if the pieces are too big. Plus, uneaten bread can cause harm to ponds and other ecosystems.
How do you do your part to protect nature?
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