How to Be a Respectful Woodlands Visitor
From time immemorial, woods and forests have been sacred or special places for human beings. And this attitude still survives today. We need healthy woodlands in order to survive and thrive for many different reasons.
It’s no surprise, then, that we still love to visit the woods and many people choose to live nearby to woodland or even amongst the trees themselves. So, how do we look after the woodlands that we have left, and help to preserve them for future generations? Well, whether you’re just visiting or considering a more permanent move to a wooded area, we’ve got all the best tips and tricks to help you be a respectful woodlands guest.
Whether you were ever an official Scout or not, everybody can take to heart the group’s motto to ‘be prepared’. Not only will this give you a better chance of enjoying your trip to the woods, but it will also help you to cut down on any negative impact that your visit might cause. First of all, seek out a sturdy rucksack of an appropriate size. Next, fill this with the essentials like a refillable water bottle, some nutritious snacks, a bag to contain any rubbish, a waterproof mat to sit on, a hat, and a lightweight waterproof jacket. After you’ve secured the essentials, it’s time to add any extra items you think might come in useful. These could range from a battery pack for your mobile devices, to any medications you might need, to a mascot for your journey. If you’re planning a longer trip, it can be a good idea to take a tablet as well as the essential mobile phone, as it will provide hours of remote entertainment. With gaming sites like Poker Stars Casino, and social media like Good Reads all now available with mobile data packages, you needn’t worry about staying busy during your downtime.
Stick to Designated Trails
For both your own safety and that of any wildlife in the woods, it is best to remain on designated walking trails, unless advised otherwise. Most woodlands provide maps and guides on the best walking routes, helping walkers and campers to avoid disturbing nesting birds and rare plants and flowers, as well as staying out of reach of any potentially dangerous flora and fauna. Even seemingly innocuous areas can be home to ants’ nests, snakes, ticks, or plants that can irritate skin, eyes and noses. If there are reintroduction or preservation programmes happening in the woodland, then it’s important to follow any regulations surrounding them, whether this means giving certain areas a wide berth, keeping dogs on a lead, or washing your footwear when entering or leaving the woods. It is the responsibility of all visitors to help rather than hinder the local environment and, above all, be respectful of the creatures that call it their home. After all, if we don’t treat our woodlands with respect, we could lose them and then enjoyable trips like the one you’re planning for right now would not be possible.
Practice Fire Safety
One very important aspect of this is following fire safety protocols. Before embarking on your trip, check the fire regulations for the particular woodland area that you’re travelling to. Some places allow campfires, whereas others have a strict no fire policy. This could change with the seasons too, so make sure to double check before each and every visit. All it takes is one spark and some dry tinder to create a blaze that can quickly become out of control, endangering not only the forest and its inhabitants, but also yourself and other people in the area. It really is not worth taking the risk.
Leave No Trace
Finally, and perhaps most succinctly, the number one rule to follow when visiting any natural area is to leave no trace behind you. This means picking up all your rubbish and taking it with you, as well as leaving the environment looking exactly as you found it. Unfortunately, this does mean reducing the number of souvenirs you pick up like pebbles, twigs, flowers and other natural flotsam and jetsam; although it may seem slightly over the top, a complete ecosystem relies on every element to retain its perfect balance and removing something as seemingly small as seeds or flowers can upset that. An alternative to this is to take pictures rather than souvenirs. This way, you can preserve memories of the sights and sounds of the forest without worrying about damaging the very place you’ve fallen in love with. Many smartphones now have excellent video and audio recording capabilities too, so there’s nothing to stop you making A/V content of your trip by recording bird song or the play of sunlight through the trees.