We often talk about footprints. Footprints we make in the sand, fossil footprints, baby footprints and then there are carbon footprints.
I have been thinking about other footprints, those we make when in our garden or walking somewhere. In my younger years I was an avid cyclist and loved nothing better then riding through country lanes. Then I got into walking and climbing and spent many years amongst high mountains and hills here in the UK. One thing that struck me then was the damage done by erosion where many footprints had trod the same path and had also strayed from the path. Some country parks and nature reserves fence off vulnerable areas and allow them to regenerate.
I know we love to do the wild thing and wander everywhere freely but have you ever thought about your environmental footprint? Do you tread gently on the earth or do you trample heavily? It is very easy to do a lot of damage to the undergrowth and the creatures that live there if you are not mindful of what you are doing. I lead a small group once a month out to explore the natural world around us. We are a small group so any damage is small but it would be better to do not damage.
It is good for mental health to be outside in the country enjoying the walk and wildlife. Most reserves and parks have paths that are there for you to walk on. They are often set out so you can see what there is to see and to protect the grass and the insects that live in the grass. I have seen public footpaths abused when they go across farmland. They are often narrow and are at the edge of the field. But many walking groups tramp through the field and on the crops as well as the path because they are intent on reaching their destination and on talking to their companions so walk two or more abreast doing lots of damage. This is not good.
Another thing that is done now many people have one or more cars. They concrete their driveways and so there is nowhere for the rain to go and little room for the many insects that live near the top of the ground. There are other more environmentally friendly ways to make a driveway but they take more thought and care.
So be mindful where you walk and be careful not to trample the grass and its thousands of inhabitants as you walk. Tread gently on the earth.
I seem unable to place a photo here today for some unknown reason but I did find some nice photos of footprints by Anna Tremewan.