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Geolitter

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As there seems to be some interest to talk about this topic on the Nordic countries level, I'll open this topic here considering the waste legislation in the Nordic countries. Some of you may have noticed, that the discussion in the general forum has been quite heated from time to time. However, it seems that the Finnish legislation can be interpreted in a manner that geocaches are not considered as geolitter:

 

The Waste Act 1072/1993, Section 19

 

Prohibition on littering

No litter, dirt or discarded machine, device, vehicle, vessel or other object may be abandoned in the environment in a manner which may cause hazard or harm to health, uncleanliness, disfigurement of the landscape, decline in amenities or other comparable hazard or harm.

 

Hedberg asked:

If you hide a small plastic box under a stone and hide it well, is it considered to be the same thing as a couple of bear can on the ground, or a half-eaten pizza?
A beer can on the ground is an object, which can cause hazard or harm to health, uncleanliness, disfigurement of the landscape, decline in amenities etc. A half-eaten pizza in the nature is not that bad IMO, it can mostly cause disfigurement of the landscape, but only for a short while until it decomposes. A geocache doesn't fill the waste definitions mentioned in the Wast Act above.

 

It might be considered as an object which may cause disfigurement of the landscape, but usually the cache containers really are in rock crevaces, camo painted or otherwise hidden in a manner that it's hard for a geomuggle to accidentally see it. The other aspect of disfigurement of the landscape is the wearing of the nature that geocachers cause when searching for caches. It's a valid point, I believe that most of us have seen uprooted moss or cut treebranches etc. near the cache sites. IMO, it's good for the hider to think about the cache site before hiding the cache: Is this place going to look about the same after 30 geocachers have visited it? And of course, the searchers should mind their step and try not to peel and tear the whole place down while searching.

 

Anyway, I don't believe we'll going to have any serious trouble with the Finnish legislation considering geocaching, but it's always good to be prepared if someone starts to place unexpected questions. How about the rest of the Nordic countries?

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Don't worry about possible wear on the ground, caused by geocachers.

In Sweden, where we organize one of the largest competitions in the world, the O-ringen 5-days orienteering, there was a lot of talk about the wear caused to the nature by all people running around in the forest. At its peak, the Swedish 5-days had 25000 participants.

 

On one occasion, there was an inspection of one of the starting points. Nearly 4000 competitors had started there that day, so the ground was of course worn. One year later, a party went to the same place, to study the long time effects of such an event. At first, they couldn't find the place, but finally they managed to sort out where the start had been. The grass and other vegetation was a little greener there, since it was fresher than the old plants nearby.

 

Don't worry about some people walking in the forest. One single forest machine will do more tracks in five minutes than 25000 people do in five days.

 

Do, on the other hand, take care of the caches you place in the forest! Check on them now and then, to make sure that their position hasn't been altered in such a way, that they may easily be seen (and then perhaps spread around by less careful people) or may harm animals etc.

 

Don't hide things that smell nice to animals. Remember that their ability to find food, which may be invisible and un-noticable to humans, is something they do for living, literally.

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Good points, Anders. I agree with you on most of them, and I don't particularly worry about the things mentioned. I worry more about uninformed and ignorant people who might consider geocaching as a threat to nature, and that's why I raised the topic.

 

I wouldn't g too far the road where we say things like but the orienteerers and/or forest machines etc. do much more damage than us. If geocaching should be harmful to nature in some way (which, again, I disagree), we should be able to prove otherwise. Actually, your orienteering example of the nature recovering after 4000 people is a good example of a good argument when the emphasis is on the nature recovering.

 

And I still think it's sad if originally mossy rockface gets peeled from all the moss by geocachers, even if it would look about the same a year after the last visitor. I've seen a great big boulder which originally was covered by big areas of green moss. The casce was hidden on the top of the boulder, so you had to climb on it. When I came there (after some people had already found it) I could clearly see where the moss had been, and also the two trees near that boulder had clear marks of climbing (broken branches, peeled bark etc). The boulder looked naked and dirty, although it probably was magnificent before the cache was there. It may look like the original in the future again, but now it didn't give me anything special to see. Vice versa.

 

On the cache placing, I fully agree with you.

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