Enjoy the forest but please leave no trace
DON CAMERON email@example.com @trurodaily Don Cameron is a registered professional forrester
After looking forward to it for so many months, summer has finally arrived. Now that our COVID situation has improved and more people are getting vaccinated every day, we are being rewarded with more freedom to enjoy our province. One of the outstanding features that always seems to make a strong impression on foreign visitors is the beauty and generous amount of forest land that stretches across our landscape. Here in Nova Scotia, we have arguably more variety of flora and fauna than any land this size in the Northern Hemisphere. The amount of open, wild space where citizens can enjoy themselves is something we tend to take for granted but that is not the case for many tourists coming from much more concentrated population centres around the globe. The fine quality of life we enjoy here includes knowing that within a few minutes from just about anywhere in the province, one can drive to more rural settings, such as forest-covered land, lakes or the coast. These locations provide countless recreational opportunities such as hiking, boating, swimming, fishing, sunbathing, biking and camping. We are now in the prime of the summer camping season. It is a time to get out and enjoy some of the enjoyable outdoor features Nova Scotia has to offer. While doing so, one should keep in mind several basic things you can do to leave the area you visit in much the same condition it was - or better - than when you arrived. You can do that by following the basic principles of the program - Leave No Trace. Careful use of our forests will help conserve them for the future. Many of us have taken a pine cone or picked a flower along a wooded trail while out enjoying nature. We may have veered off the trail or left an apple core or orange peel behind. It is important to try and minimize the impact each of us have on the natural environment because the total impact is an accumulation of everyone using a given area over an extended period of time. The Leave No Trace idea is simple. The “pack it in/pack it out” and “leave it better than you found it” concepts mean that with a few simple steps people can both enjoy, and not damage, natural areas. The Leave No Trace program has several basic principles. Those principles recommend that people using natural areas should: plan ahead and prepare by doing things such as learning if there are special concerns for an area they plan to visit; travel and camp on durable surfaces such as established trails and campsites and protect riparian areas by camping, if possible, at least 70 metres from lakes and streams and by disposing of waste by carrying out all leftover food and litter. Remote areas may not have bathrooms so human wastes should be buried in holes that are at least 20 centimetres deep; leave what you find; do not touch cultural or historical structures or artifacts and leave rocks, plants and other natural objects where found; minimize the impact of campfires by using established sites or, when in the back-country, use a lightweight stove for cooking and a candle for light; respect wildlife by observing from a distance. Never feed a wild animal as it endangers their health and changes their behaviour; some animals may even become dangerous. Be considerate of other visitors by yielding to them on the trail, camp away from trails, and by not being noisy. The program provides effective ways of helping people become aware of the impact that they have or could cause when exploring the parks and other natural areas of the province. By following these simple steps we can all help ensure these special places will remain as natural as they are today.