Environmental Awareness

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.

It must be pointed out that these studies were done at events with over 5 000 competitors. In South Africa we have a maximum of 200 competitors taking 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.

Environmental Considerations
Orienteering is totally dependent upon the existence of suitable areas for the sport, which are usually bushveld, parkland, vleiland or forest, preferably with height variation to provide 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 generally regarded as having a low environmental impact, orienteers recognise their part in maintaining 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 is committed 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:

  1. Be aware of the need to preserve a healthy environment, and to integrate this principle into the organisation of your event
  2. Ensure that South African Orienteering’s Environmental Policy and best practice guidance as included in the Rules and Guidelines are implemented in your organisation of the event particularly in respect for the environment and the protection of flora and fauna
  3. Work in partnership with the landowners, government authorities and environmental organisations in defining and achieving best practice for your event
  4. Take particular care to observe local regulations for environmental protection, to maintain the litter-free nature of orienteering and to take proper measures to avoid pollution
  5. Carry out basic monitoring of environmental performance at your event and collect the data centrally so that overall performance can be monitored and ways to improve the organisation of the event determined.

It is trusted that this will be of assistance with pursuading the relevant authorities that our sport is first and foremost ecologically sensitive and it is a great way to experience our nature without causing undue stresses on the environment.