Wild camping is the best way to connect with nature. But not all the countryside is suitable for wild camping. In Hong Kong, there are 41 designated campsites, and it is illegal to camp or erect a tent outside these areas. The law aims to protect nature rather than prohibit the behaviour of the public.
For example, putting up a tent will harm the vegetation with pegs and repeated stepping on the ground. Research in Australia has shown that grass may still grow normally after over a hundred times of being stepped, yet a dozen steps on ferns may kill them. Soil will turn hard due to pressure and its permeability will be lowered, which poses problems for soil organisms. Grass Island is known for its large and beautiful grassland. In recent years, with media exposure, large crowds of campers are attracted even though it is not a designated camp site, and the green grassy areas have become poor barren grounds, despite grass's great capacity for recuperation. Camping without proper regulations will cause severe damage on the natural environment.
Even at designated campsites, inappropriate behaviour by campers will result in adverse impacts on nature. Careless use of fire in cooking may lead to hill fires. Leftover food will attract wild animals and alter their habits and health. We must bring rubbish back to the city and not dump it in the wild.
When cleaning, whether it is for personal hygiene or cooking utensils, cleaning agents may contain harmful substances which pose threat to wild animals (particularly aquatic animals and amphibians) and pollute water sources. Therefore, we must avoid using cleaning agents or only use bio-degradable cleaning agents, and pour waste water into the proper drains in the camp sites. Do not clean, bath or pour waste water into water sources.
Wild camping allows us urban dwellers to appreciate nature's beauty and diversity of nature up close. Remember to handle fire, rubbish and waste water with care and to put up tents in designated campsites. This way everyone can continue to enjoy nature.
Text | Peggy Chung