There are numerous ways that camping in the great outdoors makes us mindful of conservation.
The first several are pretty obvious. Camping involves conserving supplies, fuel, and waste. Whether it’s hiking into the backwoods, driving into a park with a tent & trailer, or enjoying full hookups in a motorhome, you have to think a lot about conservation. Limiting food and water is necessary to conserve on space and carrying capacity. Cooking and cleaning uses up food and water, but also fuel, be it firewood, liquid fuel, or hydro. Each of those adds weight and/or expense. When the temperatures drop, you need warm clothing or you’ll have to burn more fuel, either one impacting your carrying capacity. And then there is waste. Empty containers and canisters have to be disposed of properly, or in the case of backpacking, packed back out. Disposing of washing water around a campsite or common water tap is frowned upon because it attracts unwanted wildlife so you have to give it due consideration. If you have a port-a-potty or RV holding tanks, you’re really thinking hard about conservation!
Once you’re in the conservation state of mind, it’s easier to carry it forward! We spent roughly half of last summer camping and found ourselves conserving more at home, in all ways.
Camping also promotes conservation through nature conservancy.
Filling up a campsite with tents, tables, and chairs may not seem like it’s conserving nature, but it is. Most parks, especially public ones, use some of the funds from camping and day-use fees to help maintain all of the undeveloped area, preserving the flora and fauna. As campers, we are typically granted fairly limited access to these areas via trails, boardwalks, beaches, and open spaces. The space beyond can be vast. Guided walks, nature centres, and programs give us opportunities to learn about the surrounding ecosystems, plants, and animals. As adults and children, we gain knowledge and an appreciation for the habitat and, in turn, are more likely to feel the need to preserve it. In an urban area, our daily interaction with nature may be as small as a neighbourhood park, small garden plot, or maybe just some potted plants in a window. When we are camping and hiking, we are surrounded by unspoiled natural beauty and the imperative to maintain its viability is stronger on a visceral level.
Sure, there will always be the inconsiderate campers that trample down the underbrush and leave garbage behind, but think about how much closer and immediate that is when you’re standing next to it, rather than just whizzing by on a busy road or highway. We’re much more likely to pick up trash and leave the area cleaner than we found it. Using tree-fall or campfire wood from outside a park may be restricted or prohibited, but it may still happen. Perhaps while traipsing around in the forrest grubbing for campfire fodder better suited as animal habitat, a camper will encounter poison ivy, and think twice about it the next time.
Through our interaction with nature we quickly see how important it is to conserve it for the betterment of the environment and our own spirit.