IOF Impact Study
A study by the International Orienteering Federation (IOF) into the ‘Ecological Impact of Orienteering’ (PDF) found the impact of orienteering to be very low. This is because the runners almost never run along the same path as another runner and the range of different route choices available to the competitors. Orienteers have a high environmental awareness.
These studies were done at events with over 5 000 competitors and in South Africa we have a maximum of 200 competitors take part in any one event. We are years away from having 5000 competitors at one event.
Below is an excerpt from the SAOF course planners guide. It sets out the thinking behind the planning of events and the ecological considerations of each planner.
Orienteering is dependent upon the existence of suitable areas for the sport, which are usually bushveld, parkland, vleiland or forest, preferably with height variation to give contour detail. Such areas are getting increasingly rare, and come under many competing human pressures which can jeopardise the sustainability of wildlife and habitats and bring about conflict between people.
Whilst orienteering is regarded as having a low environmental impact, orienteers recognise their part in keeping the integrity and beauty of the countryside in order that the areas we run in today are available undiminished for all users now and in future generations. Orienteering commits to the conservation of our natural environment and to ensuring that all orienteers recognise their responsibilities towards the land.
As an event organiser one can help in the following ways:
- Be aware of the need to preserve a healthy environment, and to integrate this principle into the organisation of your event
- Ensure that the organisers implement the SAOF Environmental Policy and best practice guidance. The organisers must plan and run the event to respect the environment protect the flora and fauna
- Work in partnership with the landowners, government authorities and environmental organisations in defining and achieving best practice for your event
- Take care to follow local regulations for environmental protection, to keep the litter-free nature of orienteering and to take proper measures to avoid pollution
- Carry out basic monitoring of environmental performance at your event and collect the data centrally so that overall performance to check and improve the organisation of the event.
We trust that this will be of help persuade the relevant authorities that our sport is ecologically sensitive. It is a wonderful way to experience our nature without causing undue stresses on the environment.