Minimising the ecological impact of walking

Minimising the ecological impact of walking

Going walking in Britain can be an incredibly pleasurable pastime; however walkers can have a negative effect on the environments which they visit. Conscientious walkers will do what they can to minimise the impact of their visit.


Conscientious walkers make the effort to take all of their rubbish home with them. Plastic and glass are not biodegradable (or take an exceedingly long time to biodegrade) meaning that rubbish which has been left out will not just disappear. As well as being unsightly, this rubbish can prove harmful to the local wildlife. It can injure them, impede them or be eaten by them. Any of these factors can be fatal to the local wildlife.

Rubbish which is left by inconsiderate walkers can also affect the quality of the land on which it is left. This can affect plant growth which will further affect the biodiversity of the area. Even if a product is biodegradable (e.g. orange peel), you should still take it with you when you leave because you have introduced the item to an area where it may not normally be found.

It is a good idea to take a spare plastic bag or similar container out with you when you go on a walk, so that you can collect all of your rubbish together. This will help you to make sure that you are able to take it all home with you or transport it all safely to the nearest rubbish bin.

If you stop for lunch or a snack break whilst you are out on a walk, you should quickly survey the scene before you leave, to make sure that nothing has fallen out or been dropped by accident. Not only will this help you to safeguard your possessions, but it will also help you to make sure that you have not left any rubbish behind you.


Foraging for food is one of the latest cooking trends and many walkers are keen to try foraging whilst they are out and about. However; foraging can have a profound effect on the biodiversity of the region. Taking food for human consumption may mean that there is not enough food available for the animals who feed on them. You should also avoid picking flowers from the wild, because it reduces the ability of the flower to germinate and repopulate. This can lead to certain plant species becoming rarer and rarer.

When you are out walking, you should not take anything natural away from the environment that you are travelling through.


Ecological Impact
Ecological Impact

Erosion can occur when large numbers of people pass through the same area. The ground is worn away or the grasses which cover the ground are killed, which in turn makes the ground less secure. When walkers speed up erosion through increased footfall, they can irreversibly change the way that the landscape looks.

In order to reduce the impact of erosion which is caused by footfall, you should make sure that you keep to footpaths whenever possible. Try to avoid walking on the grass next to the edge of the path, because this will serve to make the path wider and wider.

Noise pollution

When you are out walking or camping, you must try to keep noise levels to a minimum. Most people come to the outdoors to enjoy the tranquillity of the areas that they are visiting, and therefore they do not want to be disturbed by shouting or loud music. In addition to annoying your fellow outdoor enthusiasts, noisy groups are likely to scare animals. Every walker should do their upmost to reduce the impact that they have on wildlife.

Affecting wildlife

Humans have a huge impact on how animals behave in their natural environment. Although it is always nice to see animals in their natural habitats, walkers must never try to interact with the animals that they see. Interacting with animals can cause them to change their natural behaviour which may put them at risk.

Never feed animals that you see when you are out walking, because human food will not have the right nutritional balance for individual animals. Attempting to approach animals can cause them to feel stressed and it might prevent them from returning to the same area again in future.

Do not approach baby animals, even if you are worried that they may be lost or hurt. If a human touches or approaches a baby animal, it may cause the parent to reject the animal. This could put the animal at risk if it is not old enough to fend for itself and can result in an extremely negative impact on the ecology of the area.


Do not come to the great outdoors to smoke. Even when you are in a wide open space, other walkers and local wildlife will still be able to smell and inhale your cigarette fumes.

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