Mountain Tourism; Can We Truly Leave No Trace?
Greenland, a place of ice and endless mountain landscapes, is one of my favourite inspiring places to understand our relationship and responsibility with nature (ourselves). There I’ve always felt a strong friction between the “modern” world that we are creating and the natural world where the local indigenous Inuit not long ago were living in balance with the laws of nature. A way of living profoundly connected and in agreement with these laws of nature. A place where trash was not trash, but food for the soil and water. Now, Greenland has a serious trash problem, man-made products scattered around that nature can’t swallow. We brought things to the natural world, without education and awareness of the impact. It is our responsibility to understand the natural world and be the soul of the place wherever we stand.
What we can learn from nature is BE NATURE
When we say we go visit nature or natural places, it indicates that we literally take ourselves out of the formula. The only way to restore our non-separable relationship with nature is that we learn again to BE NATURE. A way of being that understands the balance in our relationship with the Earth.
How do I get myself back into the Nature formula?
This is an existential question. How do I remember who I am and where I came from?
We are programmed in a belief system that builds on the idea that nature is a tool… a means to reach our goals, unaware of the impact and context of the effects that we create. We have achieved to hide the direct visible consequences of our behaviours on far away places and into the future. But now, through accumulation we can’t hide it anymore.
It is my conviction that we need to reprogram ourselves again towards a belief system that is in coherence with the laws of nature. And this shift starts within us, we are responsible for the ways we create and decide to walk the path of life and our relationship with the natural world.
Ask yourself existential questions: how do I relate myself to nature? What is the footprint of my life into the natural world? What do I have to be, to be an integral part of nature?
By asking these questions you can reprogram yourself and accept yourself back into nature.
From Awareness to Action: Learning from Nature
The whole new Business Plan of EWES is inspired by nature. We are evolving towards an ecosystem based on a living system – a forest. Understanding the interconnecting relationships and functions of all parts, within EWES and the world we relate to. By understanding this relationship, where we don’t want to control but initiate conditions, we serve within Nature and by doing that it intrinsically serves the EWES community.
Some of the practices that we already have in place are:
- Educating the guides and partners to give them the necessary tools and mindset to develop their own practices sustainably.
- Leave any place as a better place, serving what is needed.
- Relationship building with all stakeholders and create alignment on combined strategies.
- We offer small scale in nature experiences (no mass tourism)
- We offer experiences that invite to learn and built relationship with the natural surroundings.
- We promote healthy and sustainable living in our community
- All our community members work from home
- We evolve learning from the principles of nature
Practices that we are improving and developing:
- Create a clear action plan around footprint in relation with the positive impact that we create by doing the things we do
- Expanding awareness around our own impact by inviting the students Guides to challenge us in our sustainability practices
- Create longterm partnerships with sustainable providers
Can we really Leave no Trace?
Anywhere we go we leave a footprint and even a ripple effect based on our behaviour and actions. The practice of Leave no Trace has created a lot of awareness around how to reduce our ecological footprint. But for me the question is not around leaving no traces but becoming aware of our footprint and leave any place as a better place: a positive footprint. We are imposing a mortgage to nature that cannot be paid. So, the question for me is now: how we can Leave Positive Traces with a durable ripple effect.
How can we restore that balance again and pay the bill that we created to nature?
We can do that by restoring our natural relationship, reprogram through education, reforesting, rewilding, conscious use of means and support projects and people that are Leaving Positive Traces.
The future is now in the making. Now is always the moment. What the future will look like will in part depend on our open will and heart to change our own behaviours. Expanding our consciousness towards a place where we understand the context and our function within the Living System we decided to live the Journey of Life. In this journey it is not about reaching the top of the mountain, but taking care of the mountain, learning from it and enjoying the experience.