It seems odd to mention the words bushcraft and negative in the same sentence. But one question I am often asked by reporters, radio hosts, conservationists and students who attend my courses is “does bushcraft have a negative impact on the natural world?”
My answer was always a resounding ‘NO’ and still is if done correctly, but I’m sad to say that in recent years my answer to this question has changed somewhat. Please don’t get me wrong, the positives outweigh the negatives by far, but since bushcraft became a ‘trendy’ hobby I have seen some damage to environment start to appear. Anyone causing damage can never call themselves a naturalist or bushcrafter, and these are points I feel are important to stress.
The types of damage I often come across are damage to living trees. Often Birch, where someone has come along and tried to cut sections of bark free to make small craft items, such as tinder boxes. I have also seen offending marks on the same trees, where an attempt to extracted the sap without the proper knowledge of how to do so has taken place. Sadly, some of these trees are now dying, and they are not the only signs I have come across recently.
Fire marks on SSSI sites are becoming more common and cramp ball fungus is being taken in much larger quantities than it should be.
Its great see people trying to practise and develop their skills, but we also need to ensure people know how to master these skills and have a respect for the countryside.
I feel the reason for some of this is due to TV. Some programs say ‘this or that can be done with this particular species’ but they don’t always give specific instructions of HOW. Some of this may be attributed to bad teachings on courses, or articles which only tell half a story, but give the reader, or viewer the inspiration to give it a go.
I’m writing this because I feel it’s important. It’s fantastic that more and more people are enjoying the natural world, but we do need to remember that bushcraft is about living in a sustainable way, and only taking what we need and doing so correctly. Go ahead and give it a go, it’s a lovely subject to enjoy, but please do always put the environment first, and by doing so, you can call yourself a true bushcrafter.
Some rules to adhere to
Catch you on the trail