It’s fantastic to see how many people are getting out into nature by visiting the Faerie Glen Nature Reserve at the start of the 2018 festive season. Excited children, focused trail runners, keen-eyed birdwatchers, and joyous dogs (with their required permits, of course) are all experiencing the thrill of exploring this natural haven in the suburbs of Pretoria.
The feeling of freedom sparked by visiting The Faerie Glen Nature Reserve can be taken a bit too far, however. Occasionally visitors become so curious about the nature reserve that they venture off the official trails.
Curiosity is fantastic and is something that The Friends of The Faerie Glen Nature Reserve would ordinarily encourage, but walking or running in the nature reserve is only permitted on the official trails for very good reasons. The most important of these reasons is to minimize the impact people have on the nature reserve (especially during peak visiting periods such as over the festive season) so that this beautiful natural environment can be conserved.
Some of the interesting effects of ‘off-trail’ walking are:
- Existing trails can be inadvertently widened and erosion worsened.
- Soil becomes compacted when it is stepped on, making it more difficult for plants and microbes to live there and allowing less water to seep into the soil.
- Erosion and compacted soil can change water run-off patterns, which can have a major effect on erosion.
- Vegetation can be damaged or destroyed.
- Animal habitats can be damaged or destroyed.
- There are no dustbins off the trails and should any littering occur, it will not be easily noticed and picked up.
- Visitors can become lost or disoriented without a clear path and signage.
The larger wildlife in the Faerie Glen Nature Reserve have created many ‘game tracks’ which can be misleading, and visitors do unintentionally stray from the marked trails from time-to-time. Here are some tips to minimize the risk of this happening:
- Examine the map displayed at the entrance so that you are familiar with the layout of the trails. Take a photo of the map with your cellphone and refer to it while you are in the reserve.
- You may be “off trail” if you have not seen any log steps, signs, dustbins or benches for a long time.
- You may be “off trail” if you are routinely having to bend over to avoid overhanging vegetation, or if the path seems particularly narrow.
If you do find yourself “off trail”, stop and examine the map if you have it with you. The best course of action is usually to turn around and retrace your steps until you reach an established trail.
Please help us to preserve the magic of The Faerie Glen Nature Reserve this festive season by staying on the official trails!