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Geocaching and Ecology

Glider Slider
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Hi All. I have just noticed an article in a local newspaper that is asking the public for information regarding stones that are being turned over in the smuts property in Irene on the nature trail. Their concern is the possible damage to the fragile fauna and flora, the possible collection of specimens and that the lose stones that could affect hikers.


Somehow I wonder if the impact of Geocaching is not being felt by the environment.


There are two hidden on the property that I know about within close proximity of each other.


Whilst cacheing I have noticed new pathways being trodden to some sites. The turning of rocks is prolific. Another concern I have is the possibility that someone is going to get hurt. There are all types of creepy crawly things that bite hiding under rocks and in crevices and holes that we use, or basking in the sun. The last thing I would want to hear is that some cachers sprog got bitten by an adder whilst retrieving a cache. I am sure that these issues are raised somewhere else within this site but feel that we need to keep these matters in the forefront and inform our cachers of the possible dangers and threats to themselves, their families and the environment. If we take care the impact will not be felt at all.


Just an idea. :yikes:

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Hi Glider Slider... I must concur! I think there is room for improvement in terms of protecting the ecology of an area by cachers. They (we) certainly don't do it on purpose, but it tends to happen.


I think it should be stressed that (especially in nature reserves) to place aches with permission, and not to far from the paths. In additio, it's up to the cacher to have the responsibility no to go "bundu-bashing" to try and find the cache. I'll be the first to admit, I'm guilty of it :yikes: but will never be again!

It's all to easy to fal into the "oh, it's only 20m" trap.


On the other side of the geocoin however, geocaching can also be beneficial to the environment. If you look at the recent events at Empisini in Natal. They found a cache unwittingly, asked for it to be removed and are now in the process of placing there own, reserve regulated caches. This being done in an attempt to bring more people in. Well done to them :D

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The only thing we can do is to minimize the impact. It starts with the owner of the cache and the cacher that is visiting.


Just recently I was quite disgusted to notice a cache in a highly eco sensitive area in MP. I visited this cache and the hide was done extremely well. This cache is a good example of how it can be done with very little impact to the environment. The listing even explains how to get to the cache – step on stones and leave no trace. The cache was not a quick find. The stones in this area are too large to overturn and the hide was good. I sat down for a while at the cache and I could not find anything that does not belong in that area. No damage to the environment was noticed. At this cache the owner did accept responsibility and his listing was addressing the environmental issues and it appears as if the cachers are adhering to the rules. Cachers and environmental sensitive areas can live side by side and this cache proves it. But one insensitive cacher could change this forever. It takes two to tango.


In the same language I also must state that I visit some deserted cache locations and I found coke tins and Power Ade bottles at the cache site. At one cache I was the first person at a new location just to find an empty milk bottle in a relative isolated area. This is not the way to go.


I visited some caches where I follow the trails in the long grass. The cache owner must accept responsibility and he must move the cache to a different location if foot paths start to form. Tell tales such as grass disturbed should not be a problem. If established paths develop then rain will form soil erosion and that is a problem. Last year I visited a cache location where it appeared as if a bomb exploded in the area. Nearly every stone was overturned in this area and anybody can see that this is not normal. If you need to turn a stone then you need to replace it in his exact location.


Worse of all is the article that Glider Slider is mentioning. Someone is looking for the reasons why all the stones are overturned at the Smuts property. It is a matter of time before they find the root cause and then it will be another issue for FishEagle to resolve. We don’t need this type of publicity. As cache owner you need to accept responsibility and you need to speak to them before they discover the cache. Place the cache near the foot path and you will reduce the environmental impact in a sensitive area. Many will not agree but act before they act and before it becomes a major pain.


There is a lot we can do to reduce the environmental impact. Just recently I had to take a short cut in a nature reserve. I had a good look around and found some animal foot paths and I used them to get to the cache. No new ones were formed and no damage to the fauna and flora were done. At the end it boils down to accepting responsibility for your action. Of soos die bybel se “Dit wat jy saai sal jy maai”. I also believe that education do play an important role. Geocaching is for all walks of life and I believe that there are some cachers that do not understand the impacts of their actions. Just recently I visited a cache and after a while I realised that I am causing damage to the location during the search process. I stopped and I logged a DNF. The next time I will contact the owner and request more details. If he refuses to assist then I will just move to the next hunt and forget about this one. If most of the cachers do the same then the owner should realise that something is wrong. The owner will not like several DNF’s with reference to damage to the environment – we can force him to change the cache or to add more hints.


On the other side of the coin I think our reviewer is capable to make rational decisions. If you notice severe damage at any cache location you should report it to the cache owner or to the Reviewer. I personally reported some caches were severe damage were noticed and the Reviewer did investigate it further and in each case corrective action was done. If a cacher does notice these kinds of damages then he should report it. It is not nice to blow the whistle but it is criminal to walk away from this. We have the power to make the difference. In most cases it is not the cache owner but the visitor. If one of my caches does any environmental damage I would appreciate it if a visitor can highlight this to me. We should be open minded and we should try to understand the concerns without getting too touchy. Yes, it is not nice if cachers is giving you a hard time but take it on the chin and learn from it. No one is perfect.


I also should mention that a couple of caches did show me some real serious dump sites in Gauteng. Not the fault of the owner or other cachers but muggles in the area. Maybe we should hold more CITO events and maybe we should proactively clean our environment for our children’s sake. Maybe if we start cleaning the areas then muggles will learn. Maybe we should look at CITO event as educational events. Get some locals involved and explaining why and the impacts. If you change the mind of one person you have achieved the goal.



Edited by gerhardoosMPsa
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I must add that I have quite a time trying to make the over eager children and friends that cache with me understand that rocks must be moved with caution and returned to their original position after doing so. Sometimes I get the horries thinking that the next rock or hole will contain a snake that will put paid to their enthusiasm. I am trying to contact the friends of the Smuts property to get more details of the damage and to determine if it is perhaps limited to two specific areas. If so then we know who the culprits are and need to post warnings on those listings.


I agree that we need to put warnings on all our sensitive listings to fellow cachers reminding them to take care when approaching or looking for hides.


But most of all we need to manage ourselves. I also am responsible for adding to tracks. Perhaps if you notice that tracks are forming or could form take more care where you step or approache the hide from a different angle. This I have been able to do quite successfully.


A torch at hand could help to spot resting fauna, in holes or amongst rocks, that do not like being disturbed. Winter is approaching and we are likely to find a lot more than we barganed for resting in these places. :unsure:

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I agree. We easily profess to be an environmentally aware sport. But merely because we practice outdoors and in some of the most beuatiful parts of the country - does not make us environmentally sensitive.


Let us all learn from the KNP example. I am one of those who works in the field - yet placed a cache that was under scrutiny in the Empisini Reserve. I am glad for how the management have reacted - but it could have been so different.


I agree on the need for more CITO events. In the 2 odd years I've been involved - there have been none that I know of. We should change that.


As far as nooks and crannies and associated creepy crawlies. I found this really cool inspection mirror (check out car mechanic tool shops). A adjustable mirror (with t fashlight too.)


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I agree on the need for more CITO events. In the 2 odd years I've been involved - there have been none that I know of. We should change that.


I have been tinkering with the idea of holding a CITO event, but I would like one where the impact will still be felt a few months afterwards. What is the use if we hold one, and then the very next weekend, it is back where it was? Then nothing was achieved. I think a few CITO events around the country would greatly help the "Geocaching name" out there. Maybe we could look at holding a nation wide CITO event some time? Maybe we can use it as a way to say thanks to the KNP and all National Parks, by holding CITOs in Nature reserves?


I also like the idea, that all the rubish is weighed. Thus we have a idea of the nett effect we have on the environment. (We leave 0.5 kg of stash for every 1 kg of rubish removed.)


I must confess at this point I think I have still left more caches in weight, then rubish which I have removed.

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Count me in. I like the idea of a trash log. Perhaps we can create a new page where cachers log the volume in weight removed from each cache location. Statistics would then be live and we would be able to show by area the volume removed and thereby the impact made. I would not limit this to events though events could serve to boost the numbers.


This could be eye popping.

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Part of my discussions with the Environmental Management for the City of Tshwane is to arrange a CITO in one of there parks to show our appreciation for allowing geo-caching to continue and in a more responsible manner with proper permission.


We are planning a braai event (in March) to introduce them to the rest of the geocaching community and then the CITO in a park that they will nominate in April.

Edited by RedGlobe
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Part of my discussions with the Environmental Management for the City of Tshwane is to arrange a CITO in one of there parks to show our appreciation for allowing geo-caching to continue and in a more responsible manner with proper permission.


We are planning a braai event (in March) to introduce them to the rest of the geocaching community and then the CITO in a park that they will nominate in April.

well done - brilliant

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