— The Bookseller
MINIMUM IMPACT WALKING AND TREKKING
Each walking/trekking guide contains a section on minimum impact walking.
By visiting the regions you are having a positive impact, not just on your own well-being, but on local communities as well. Your presence brings money and jobs into the local economy and also pride in and awareness of the local environment and culture.
However, the environment should not just be considered in terms of its value as a tourist asset. Its long-term survival and enjoyment by future generations will only be possible if both visitors and local communities protect it now. The following points are made to help you reduce your impact on the environment, encourage conservation and promote sustainable tourism in the area.
The keyword here is ‘local’. By supporting local services and businesses and the production and sale of local produce you are also supporting the local environment. Money generated by tourists in local economies provides extra incentives for local initiatives such as better-quality maintenance of an area, improved conservation and better local amenities, all of which can be achieved using local resources, labour and materials.
Look and ask for local produce to buy and eat. By supporting local farmers and producers you are helping those people who are best placed to conserve and protect the land to do so. You are also reducing the pollution and congestion caused by the transportation of food, so-called ‘food miles’.
Support local businesses
It’s a fact of life that money spent at local level – perhaps in a market, or at the greengrocer, or in an independent pub – has a far greater impact for good on that community than the equivalent spent in a branch of a national chain store or restaurant. While no-one would advocate that walkers should boycott the larger supermarkets, which after all do provide local employment, it’s worth remembering that businesses in rural communities rely heavily on visitors for their very existence. If we want to keep these shops and post offices, we need to use them. The more money that circulates locally and is spent on local labour and materials, the greater the impact on the local economy and the more power the community has to effect the change it wants to see.
By choosing a walking holiday you are already minimising your impact on the environment. Your interaction with the countryside and its inhabitants, whether they be plant, animal or human, can bring benefits to all. It is time we all started thinking beyond simply closing the gate and not leaving litter. With increasing numbers of people heading into the outdoors we all have to learn to look after and conserve the very environment we’ve come to enjoy.
Use public transport whenever possible
More use of public transport encourages the provision of better services which benefits visitors, local people and the global environment. During peak periods traffic congestion can be a major headache and you’re doing yourself (and everybody else in the vehicle with you) a big favour by avoiding it.
Never leave litter
Litter is a worldwide problem that is unsightly, pollutes the environment and kills wildlife. Please carry a rubbish bag with you so you can dispose of rubbish in a bin at the next town rather than dropping it. You can even help by picking up a few pieces of litter that other people leave behind.
Consider walking out of season
By walking paths at less busy times of the year you help to reduce over-use of the path at peak periods. Many fragile habitats, such as dunes, are unable to withstand the heavy use and consequent trampling. You also help to generate year-round income for local services and may find your holiday a more relaxing experience; there’ll be less stress involved in finding accommodation and fewer people on the trail.
Respect all wildlife
Remember that all wildlife you come across has just as much right to be there as you. Tempting as it may be to pick wild flowers you should leave all flora alone so the next people who pass can enjoy the sight as well. You never know if you may be inadvertently picking a rare flower, destroying its chances of future survival.