Camping has increased in popularity during the last year as numbers of people exploring the outdoors has shot up dramatically.
While one of the great joys of camping means you get the chance to sleep under the stars in beautiful locations, it’s incredibly important to ensure you follow just a few short rules, to prevent causing damage to a local habitat and the wider environment.
With the growth in visitor numbers to rural locations, there has been a substantial increase in people leaving traditional camp sites behind and opting for quieter areas to set up their tent. This is known commonly as wild camping and often comes with variety of issues that exasperate the normal list of things campers need to consider.
There are a number of aspects that Walk NI urge you to consider. Top of that list is litter. Leaving waste behind is more common at wild camp sites, in part because they have no facilities there. This not only impacts the beauty of our landscape, but it can have a detrimental effect and pose a serious risk to wildlife. Walk NI’s latest campaign, The Right Side of Outside, has shared lots of tips and advice on how to prevent litter and the best ways to dispose of it.
There are also specific rules about using the outdoors as a loo. Human waste is natural and necessary during a protracted stay in the outdoors, but it is important to avoid polluting water sources, minimise contact with animals and insects, maximise decomposition and minimise the chances of social impact – that is, the risk that some other poor hiker downstream of you has an unpleasant surprise!
It is essential that campers ensure they have permission to be on whatever land they’re staying on. This means contacting the landowner and confirming you have permission to be there, not just going by where you see other people camping online. Camping should only take place in designated spaces.
Dave Scott, Estate and Project Manager at the Woodland Trust, highlighted the balance that he wants people to enjoy the outdoors but take care. “We want people to love and enjoy our woods, and wild camping can cause issues that the campers might not even realise. When wild campers leave their tents and litter behind, it takes resources away from what the Woodland Trust wants to do, which is look after these woods as havens for wildlife and for people to enjoy.”
To share the message, Serena Terry from Catchy Co scripted and guest stars in Walk NI’s latest video as “Mother Nature” alongside her husband Mark Terry.
From bringing home your litter and dog waste, planning ahead, parking responsibly, being mindful of wildlife, livestock worrying, wearing appropriate clothing and footwear and avoiding lighting wildfires; ‘The Right Side of Outside’ campaign will continue to roll out its messaging over the coming weeks and focus on informing people to make the right choices outdoors.
For more information on the campaign visit WalkNI.com or search #RightSideofOutside.