Nature's Secret Larder - A Negative Side to Bushcraft?


Bushcraft Blog

A Negative Side to Bushcraft?
30th June 2009

Bushcraft Blog

It seems odd to mention the words bushcraft and negative in the same sentence.  But one question I am often asked by reporters, radio hosts, conservationists and students who attend my courses is “does bushcraft have a negative impact on the natural world?”

My answer was always a resounding ‘NO’ and still is if done correctly, but I’m sad to say that in recent years my answer to this question has changed somewhat. Please don’t get me wrong, the positives outweigh the negatives by far, but since bushcraft became a ‘trendy’ hobby I have seen some damage to environment start to appear.  Anyone causing damage can never call themselves a naturalist or bushcrafter, and these are points I feel are important to stress.

The types of damage I often come across are damage to living trees. Often Birch, where someone has come along and tried to cut sections of bark free to make small craft items, such as tinder boxes. I have also seen offending marks on the same trees, where an attempt to extracted the sap without the proper knowledge of how to do so has taken place. Sadly, some of these trees are now dying, and they are not the only signs I have come across recently.

Fire marks on SSSI sites are becoming more common and cramp ball fungus is being taken in much larger quantities than it should be.

Its great see people trying to practise and develop their skills, but we also need to ensure people know how to master these skills and have a respect for the countryside.

I feel the reason for some of this is due to TV. Some programs say ‘this or that can be done with this particular species’ but they don’t always give specific instructions of HOW. Some of this may be attributed to bad teachings on courses, or articles which only tell half a story, but give the reader, or viewer the inspiration to give it a go.

I’m writing this because I feel it’s important. It’s fantastic that more and more people are enjoying the natural world, but we do need to remember that bushcraft is about living in a sustainable way, and only taking what we need and doing so correctly. Go ahead and give it a go, it’s a lovely subject to enjoy, but please do always put the environment first, and by doing so, you can call yourself a true bushcrafter.

Some rules to adhere to

  • Always put the environment first
  • Only ever take what you need
  • Be sure to research any skill thoroughly before attempting it
  • Never gather wild foods if a species is in short supply (even if its common on a larger scale)
  • Always seek permission to practise your hobby on private land
  • Always observe nature at a distance
  • Leave no trace


Catch you on the trail



Sam Gravestock on 10/07/09

Hi Kris
this was a topic you mentioned briefly while we were on your introduction to wild foods course a month or so ago and has been on my mind since
too often when i am strolling i see a number of fire scars in spitting distance of each other resulting in a pock marked clearing which is not at all pleasent to the eye nor really going to endear me to anyone who might see me when i have a night out under the tarp despite my personal view on the matter a case of being tarred by the same brush,
perhaps the tv personalities should focus more upon the need to return the land to how it appeared before an indiviuals arrival or perhaps more detail in the methods should be involved,
however i fear this would not make for good television and that is unfortuantely what is the main thought of some tv personalities or maybe the producers.
it is nice to see some one voicing their concerns maybe more people will think a little more before feeling the need to burn down parts of the forest or maim trees through thier inexperience

Kris on 08/07/09

Hi Kristy,

Many thanks for your kind comments.

Take care

Kristy on 08/07/09

Here! Here! I love the genuine passion you have - you are a blessing to the land. I hope that your message is a gentle reminder for people to understand the Bigger Picture. Keep up the good work!

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