Be a environmental friendly hiker

¡§ Do not take anything away expect your photographs ,
Do not leave anything behind expect your footprints.¡¨

Environmental protection is a hot topic these days , and the actions of local green groups have yielded good results in recent years . Due to the extensive efforts of environmental groups , the Long Valley wetland can now remain untouched from development , and the development plans for Tai Long Wan at Sai Kung have been reduced tremendously . This is good news and encouraging for Hong Kong's nature lovers , as together , we can overcome pressures to develop .

But there's even more you can do as an individual . Have you ever thought of ways we can protect the environment while hiking in the countryside ? Countries in Europe and the US have created and carried out their own ¡§Environmental Friendly Hiking¡¨ or ¡§Low Impact Hiking¡¨ campaigns for a number of years now . The ideas are simple . Hikers should respect nature and be careful not to damage the environment while out walking . Let's look at some of these basic ideas .

Start with your own belongings:
Only carry re-usable items like water bottles , towels and recyclable bags in place of disposable , distilled water bottles , tissue paper and plastic bags . Before you hit the road , remove all packaging from your equipment and food . This can greatly reduce the quantity of rubbish and lighten your load !

Carry all rubbish with you:
Many who visit the countryside are disciplined , and do rid of their trash into bins . This is responsible , yes , but it's not the best way to keep the countryside clean . Why? The cleaning staff simply cannot collect all the trash from the rubbish bins every single day . Instead , trash sits there and becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects . Worse yet , the wind or animals can scatter the litter everywhere . Kam Shan Country Park is a good example of a real rubbish problem . Try to make an extra effort to reduce the amount of waste you carry with you before you go , and keep any trash you have with you until you spot a trash can along the main road .

There are also other common misperceptions . Many think that tissue papers and fruit peels are biodegradable and can help the environment if thrown on the ground . But for biodegradable material to be absorbed into the ground , it has to be buried and will only biodegrade naturally at the right temperature and humidity level . Just throwing tissues and fruit peels on the ground is not a good idea . It is not hygienic and creates more wastes .

Do not pollute water sources:
Pollution is strictly prohibited at all streams , catchwaters and reservoirs . These bodies of water are sources of clean drinking water , and fishes , insects , reptiles , and plants . There are even some endangered or endemic species that inhabit these waters . All campers should properly treat their sewage after cooking and not bath or wash cooking utensils in the streams . Never pour polluted water into the streams . Clean up away from the streams .

Do not smoke in the countryside:
Most people visit the countryside for a breath of fresh air . Smoking spoils the mood ! Smoking not only bothers others , but could potentially cause forest fires . In fact , a majority of Hong Kong's hillside fires are caused by careless smokers or fires that have not been properly put out . Enjoy a healthy and safe day of hiking without the cigarettes for few hours !

Do not take away animals / plants from the wild :
Many people like to bring animals or plants back home without considering that they will eventually die because they can't adapt to such a dramatically different environment . It is illegal to do this , and there is another , better way to bring these plants and animals home . Capture them on film , and preserve the true image of the species without destroying them .

When ¡§nature call¡¨:
Inevitably , nature will call while you are out in the countryside ! But what if you cannot find a place to go to the bathroom? If you can't wait , go somewhere away from a water source and campsite . Use soil or rocks to cover your waste . Do not dump tissue paper on the ground once you have finished , but carry it away in a plastic bag . Fortunately , most campsites and village kiosks do have toilets , so please make use of them and only go elsewhere if it's an emergency .

It's the responsibility of everyone to keep our environment clean . We hope you'll remember these simple ways to help reduce waste and keep our countryside beautiful for future generations to enjoy.