Protecting nature includes limiting garbage, human waste and legal land use. PHOTO: Amirul Anirban / The Summit
Through: Olivia Visser, staff writer
The outdoor recreation advice of British Columbia hosted a webinar on July 20 on “Cultivating Responsible Leisure Practices”. The discussion focused on promoting mindful outdoor practices and was prompted by the environmental and social impacts of an increasing “rise in outdoor recreation”. The event featured five speakers with relevant expertise on outdoor recreation.
Clara Jane Blye is completing her psychology studies at the University of Alberta with a focus on environmental psychology. She has studied park visitor behavior in Alberta, BC and Ontario. At the webinar, she spoke about a recent project that evaluated environmental communications over the last 50 to 60 years, focusing on their ability to “advocate for environmental behavior”.
Blye noted that understanding the “why” in environmental communications is crucial. She said “tapping into people’s moral norms or ethics” while accurately addressing their harmful behaviors is one of the best ways to teach important outdoor practices. According to their study, effective environmental communication should include addressing emotions such as guilt, pride, and anger. A publication from the Sea to Sky Destination Management Council highlights the desperation of local residents over litter, illegal land use and human waste. Blye said tapping into a person’s pride means amplifying their positive behavior. This might seem like encouraging someone to “unwrap it” rather than requiring them not to throw anything away.
Stefan HuiHiking book author and former summit The news editor said he had “learned a lot about responsible recreation through hiking clubs”. Hui noted, “When I talk to people, they often ask, ‘Aren’t you worried that you’re destroying these places by writing about them?’ He replied that he felt ‘a responsibility to provide the context’.” required to use these spaces safely and respectfully.
Hui stressed that “everywhere we trek is indigenous territory,” and people don’t realize that “many of these places are sacred.” Therefore, outdoor users should pay special attention to the specific guidelines of each location. He listed four resources that influence his writing and recovery habits: Leave Not a trace, WildSafeBCMarine Trail Code of behaviorand the Haida Gwaii Promise.
John Rae works for the Sea to Sky Destination Management Council. He spoke of a new one campaign titled “Don’t Love it to Death,” which highlights that increasing outdoor recreation is taking a toll on “the environment, communities, residents and infrastructure.” This campaign consists of advertisements and posters distributed throughout the North Shore and Sea to Sky region. The slogan tries to be “provocative without shame”.
Brian Pratt is involved in all-wheel drive Association from BC and is a To step Easy! Educator. Both organizations offer off-road drivers education, training and stewardship projects. Pratt described local trips around Stave Lake with Tread Lightly! who taught new backcountry users how to travel responsibly on backroads before participating in environmental and maintenance projects in the area.
Sherry Lu is Director of Education and Learning Project at BC Parks. She recognized that “behavior change is a systemic problem [BC Parks] we can’t solve on our own.” Lu spoke about four BC Parks partnerships that help promote responsible outdoor recreation: Camper’s codediscover parks ambassador, NAKED Campsite program and hiking DiscoverPACKS. BC Parks also has digital ones frontland and Backland Visitor guides on their website as well as a self-guided online course for backcountry camping. The guides cover topics such as campfire and bear safety, travel planning and dog restrictions.
“While we’re all busy blaming others, few people talk about the personal responsibility we all have to control our own behavior and examine our own attitudes,” Rae added.
Simple practices like using the bathroom properly and taking out the trash make a big difference to the environment, while sticking to safer ways can save lives.
A recording The webinar is available on the Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia YouTube page.