How to be a Responsible Visitor in Nature
Be a responsible visitor in nature! The Swedish Right to Common Access law is a luxurious and unique right to access nature, to pluck berries and mushrooms, set up tents and light campfires in the wild. But with rights come responsibility. Below, we have listed some advice for how to be a good visitor when you’re out enjoying everything nature has to offer.
It’s a well-known fact that our well-being improves when we spend time in nature. Fantastic views, the smell of vegetation and even seeing animals in the wild make our shoulders drop and stress is reduced. It’s no wonder an increasing number of people want to enjoy the outdoors.
However, an increasing numbers of people puts more pressure on nature in different ways, by littering, wear and tear and disturbance of the wildlife. Therefore, it’s important to know how to be a good visitor in nature. Here are some advice for how to be a good visitor in nature.
Bring everything you brought back with you
Littering can severely damage nature as debris such as plastics emit harmful substances for many years which impacts vegetation, water and wildlife. Animals can be harmed by eating litter which can actually cause suffocation, digestive issues and even starvation. For example, plastic bags and cigarette butts can emit toxic substances for hundreds of years. Also, it doesn’t look very nice. So, you can really make a difference by following the advice below.
- Bring an empty litter bag with you to make it easy for you to bring any debris back home: If you managed to carry it in your backpack when it was full, you can probably carry its residues back and throw it where it belongs – in the recycling bin.
- Pack your food in a lunch box instead of using disposable items, such as plastic bags.
- Use a reusable bottle (made from aluminium or other) for bringing water and drinks with you.
- If you pause somewhere where there’s litter on the ground, perhaps you can contribute by picking some of it up and throwing it in a bin?
- Portions of snus (snuff) and cigarette butts do not belong in nature, or on the streets for that matter. Bring a container with you so that you can put your portion bag or cigarette butt in it and bring it back and throw it in a bin where it belongs.
- One dog’s stinky pile is not a large problem. However, as many people bring their dogs when hiking or ski touring, the amount of poop becomes an issue. Bring a plastic bag so you can collect your dog’s poop, and a container where you can put the bag and close the lid for a stink-free transportation back to a bin. Did you forget the bag? Use a branch or similar to push the pile off the trail. Also, never bag poop and leave the bag in nature – it’s better to just leave the mess as it is.
- Is it unclear where you should go to get rid of your debris and trash bags? Ask the locals, the Åre municipality, the ski area operator SkiStar or whomever you are renting your accommodation from. Here’s a list of recycling stations. You can also buy a trash bag from the municipality which you can then return to specific stations when it’s full. Read more here >>
If you find trash in nature, report it to Åre Municipality so that they can clean it up. Go to this link to use their online service (in Swedish).
Thanks to the Right to Common Access law you are allowed to pluck mushrooms and berries, light a campfire, ski and hike almost freely in Swedish nature. It also contains tips on what to think about. Read more about the Right to Common Access here or here.
Stuck in rush hour?
In Popular places it gets crowded quickly. Try something new!
Some destinations/trails/attractions are more popular than others. And when many people gather in the same place we, unconsciously, contribute to the wear and tear in those areas. Maybe you can find a new favorite trail, attraction or destination? Maybe you will get to explore something new and by doing so, creating your own unique memories. Ask the locals, check at the Tourist Office and search the maps for alternative trails for your outing.
If you arrive at a full parking lot, make sure to consider where you park. Parking on both sides of a road is prohibited and you need to make sure you do not block the path for rescue vehicles and other transportation.
Distancing means caring
Let the animals to do their thing.
Reindeer, foxes, ptarmigan (grouse), birds of prey, lemmings, lynx, wolverines and bears are just a selection of the animals that reside here. It is important to leave them alone and give them the space they need, especially from April to June as this is mating season and many of the animals will give birth to and raise their young during this period.
Here are some tips on how to behave in this sensitive Eco-system.
- Keep your dog leashed at all times. Even the most obedient four-legged friend can react in unexpected ways in a new environment. And even the smallest of our beloved mongrels can suddenly imagene that they’re big enough to hunt for deer or moose.
- Keep your dog leashed at all times. Even the most obedient four-legged friend can react unexpectdly in a new environment. And even the smallest of our beloved mongrels can suddenly imagene that they’re big enough to hunt for deer or moose.
- In mountainous environments, birds often nest on ledges and in shrubbery so try to avoid disturbing them.
- Cubs or young animals that are alone have usually not been abandoned even if it may look that way. The mother is most likely nearby. Therefore, you need to stay well away.
- Feel free to take pictures, but only from a good distance.
- Leave nests, eggs, burrows and other habitats alone. Even if they look empty they might not be and we can disturb its inhabitants if we are not careful.
The mountain flora might also be fragile. Therefore, avoid plucking lichen and moss, pick branches off of living trees and bushes, or pluck unknown flowers. At the beginning of the 20th century, researchers came to Åre and pillaged large areas to fill their herbariums. We know better today! Also, there are plenty of orchids and other vegetation that are protected by law so make sure you don’t pluck anything that should be left standing 🙂
Together, we can make a difference for animals and nature. Thank you for your contribution.