A Simple Step

Each step we take leaves an impression on the world. This is both true in a metaphorical and a literal sense. The soil is a vast ecosystem whose complexities we have barely begun to scratch the surface of understanding. What we do know is that the greater the trauma to the soil, the less productive it is. This is one of the philosophies behind ‘no plough’ farming.

National Parks have paths to not only direct you to the more picturesque areas but to limit the human impact on the park. This provides the area relief from the high traffic of National Parks and allows orchids to flourish, seedlings to emerge and invasive weeds never have the chance to establish.

It is important to recognise that each step you take will change the area that your foot touches. It is easier to empathise with the soil if you see it as an organism that will react each time you tred upon it. When walking off path I choose to follow already established animal tracks to limit my own impact. When no tracks are available I take each step with great care and consideration.

My own understanding (limited as it is) and appreciation of the soil is what leaves me angered and frustrated at the arrogance of others.

Emma standing in the wheel rut created by someone four-wheel driving over a small hump. Emma is 169cm tall and the rut reaches to her hip. Eucalypts are seen in the background.
At its deepest point the rut was approximately 90cm deep

In this photo I stand in the wheel tracks left behind by a 4WDriver. I myself love to explore and have done so via vehicle, even at times 4WDriving. so perhaps I am a little hypocritical but never would I cause such severe devastation as this, particularly in a reserve.

During and after floods it is relatively common for farmers to become bogged as they transport vital supplies across their properties. Such an instance might leave evidence akin to this behind. This is hardly a desirable outcome but traversing muddy areas is done as a last resort because of not only the devastation it leaves behind and the harm it causes to the machinery. I would argue that these ruts were created because someone wanted to see if they could get over the muddy hump. The only need was satisfying their ego.

How many years will it be before this scar is gone? For how long will no grass be able to grow let alone our cherished wildflowers? When the rain next falls (fingers crossed for sooner rather than later) it will rush down these divets causing further erosion. The water will gather speed and collect soil particles, vital minerals and organic matter as it courses through these funnels. These are the same essential components needed to heal this broken section of land. If you want to 4WD like this go to a designated property.

While it is important to limit our use of plastics and/or non-recycable items, including straws and coffee cups, I would prefer everyone to think a little more on their overal impact. Do not just stop using these things because someone told you to, understand and appreciate why it is necessary. There are endless items we need to cut down on but until we change our mindset the natural world is all but lost.

I know I have a long way to go before I reach a ‘sustainable’ lifestyle. Many of us are trying in our own little ways and that is fantastic. I doubt any one of us can claim we are perfect. I just wonder if the person driving this vehicle think they are environmentally conscious because they use a keep cup and are out enjoying nature.

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