Regulating bushcraft

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Bee Outdoors

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Aug 10, 2019
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We have so many restrictions concerning the way we act, enjoy and practice our skills in the wilderness. Before you say it, yes I totally understand why and I know we need them to protect the little wilderness we have.

Some people think the way around all these laws is to license bushcraft or other outdoor activity’s such as wild camping foraging etc. I’m not one for commercialising bushcraft or wilderness survival skills I think we have far too many things commercialised as it is. There are so many courses out there covering bushcraft and I would always recommend a person in taking them, but mostly to speed up their skill set a little and to have the opportunity to get one on one tuition and be influenced with the right ethos. It’s not always about learning but meeting and engaging with amazing people.

As far as wild camping foraging and all the other life skills we forgot, those should never fall under a license system. Besides, wild camping is mostly fun due to the freedom and nostalgia around it, a cheeky stealth camp knowing you not really allowed but doing it in a way that you don’t harm anyone or the environment.

You can teach people the fundamentals but the rest of the skill can only be taught with time, failure amounts to experience and every person learns differently at their own pace.

In my opinion if you regulate an industry and you soon find colleges opening up offering crash courses at high prices to get fully qualified.

I don’t teach, bushcraft is my hobby. I think I have a lot of skills but not life time experience like the people that are deserving of the title instructor. Licensing the industry would not have a direct impact in my hobby but I am sure that it would affect a lot of people and mostly those with a lifetime of dedication to this industry.

Something should be done to make this industry safe for people and the environment and hope we can one day find a solution but for the meanwhile I’ll hold on to the hope that respected outdoors men and women will encourage the ethos and skills people need to enjoy this amazing lifestyle in a safe way.
 
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Billy-o

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Apr 19, 2018
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I may not be Butlin's/Pontin's style, but bushcraft is always/already itself prone to a uniform and regulated behaviour which people like to buy into for sake of comfort and identity. Fjallraven trousers, the right knife, correct jargon and demeanour. It is why we talk about the difference between the aims and purposes of bushcraft and just, you know, camping or sleeping out.

I don't think I am saying that's bad; rather just a fact of the matter.
 
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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
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Mid Wales
Something should be done to make this industry safe for people and the environment and hope we can one day find a solution but for the meanwhile I’ll hold on to the hope that respected outdoors men and women will encourage the ethos and skills people need to enjoy this amazing lifestyle in a safe way.

The problem for me is that it's exactly a few of those "respected outdoors men and women" that have created a kind of dogma about 'what, how and with what bit of kit' that has resulted in this priority of exploiting over nurturing. I've said elsewhere, before anybody is allowed to light a fire they should complete a course on ecology first (tongue very firmly in cheek but I believe in the switch of priorities).
 

nigelp

Full Member
Wild camping is technically not allowed anywhere in England and Wales except on Dartmoor. It is tolerated and has always been accepted on the higher hills, away from roads and dwellings. On crown land, national trust land etc it is not permitted by various by-laws but we see few people taken to court.
Unfortunately last year we saw many poor examples of ‘wild camping’ or ‘fly camping’ as it was termed close to roads etc.
I have also seen some very poor examples of ‘bushcraft’ with people basically trespassing to ‘wild camp’ lighting fires (with and without a fire box), making ‘natural’ shelters that damage fragile eco systems etc. Those are usually the videos that you see on YouTube and social media and are unfortunately the examples that are used for a need for ‘regulation and rules’. You see less of the good expanses because if someone goes off quietly to a location and sleeps in a bivvy bag with a simple tarp shelter and cooks on an gas stove no one will know!
I’m not telling people to not do it, I’d say just do it discreetly! I’ve spoken to forestry keepers and they turn a blind eye to discrete, unobtrusive activities but won’t tolerate fire damage and litter.
I’m all for people just getting out and learning for themselves but I’d seriously question wether many are aware of their impact on the environment. I’d controversially say that lighting any form of fire using gathered wood on land you don’t own is going to leave a negative trace and draw unwanted attention. Going into a woodland or onto open countryside and making camps of any sort will impact the environment even if it drives wildlife away from nests, burrows and feeding sites. Spending 24 hours in a wooded area with a fire, noise and disturbing the equilibrium will undoubtedly have an impact.

If you saw me out and about I look like a normal (normal for me -lol) outdoor person but with more muted clothing. I don’t light fires, gather materials for a shelter and if I wild camp I leave no trace or presence of my being there except some flattened grass. I’m very cautious of taking any form of ‘weapon’ onto private or public access land without good reason because if you don’t have permission to cut things you don’t need an knife and axe.

My focus personally and soon as part of my ‘business’ has been on wildlife and nature awareness and learning about tracks, sign and creating opportunities to use the outdoors in a more mindful way. If I go to a woodland and just sit and watch the wildlife comes to me.
If I go to a woodland and blunder about like a spaniel on speed I see nothing and experience nothing. I’m not knocking that; I do sometimes enjoy a more social experience with like minded friends but that’s not the same experience as ‘bushcraft’ - that’s camping in the woods!

As an outdoor instructor my activities are already heavily regulated with me personally having to be first aid trained, have insurance , risk assessments and appropriate qualifications. Before I start getting income I’ve laid out nearly £1000 per annum and am competing against the Facebook ‘instructors’ who offer cut price ‘courses’. I mostly teach navigation, hill and moorland back packing and do wild camp with clients. I have to have permissions to use crown land and am sensitive to the seasonal happenings such as ground nesting birds and rut etc that can be disturbed.
As far as it goes as bushcraft as an ‘industry’ I see far less negativity towards regulated and managed outdoor activity than those ‘wild or fly’ camping. A weekend course with a professional outdoor person can accelerate a person learning and more importantly enlighten them to how they might impact the environment.

My course joining instructions make clear that people will need to leave no trace and I don’t even allow people to throw fruit cores etc away. All bagged up and taken home.
I think things like ‘bushcraft ’ courses, allowed camping with fire sites and bush moots are great because it contains any potential impact and brings like minded people together. It can also be an opportunity to demonstrate good practice or keep most folk away from where they will cause damage.
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
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Mid Wales
I’ve spoken to forestry keepers and they turn a blind eye to discrete, unobtrusive activities but won’t tolerate fire damage and litter.

This isn't the official message from NRW or, I suspect, from other forestry organisations. If you trespass and have an accident they are covered by their public liability insurance conditions; if the say it's OK to go in as long as you leave no trace they would have to a) make safe all areas and b) have insurance that covered that particular activity. Clearly they cannot make all areas safe so the kind of activities they allow (and NRW are required to make public access available for recreation) are cycling, horse riding and walking on designated routes which they do inspect regularly and make safe.

I have obtained permission to use forestry land for activities in the past but have always been required to carry my own liability insurance.
 
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Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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Mid Wales
OK, being devil's advocate for a minute, if I go onto public land with my chainsaw I'm required to have an appropriate 'ticket' for the activity I am carrying out (that has cost me many hundreds of pounds to obtain); if I go on to any land with my rifle or my shotgun I am required to have a certificate (though nothing that shows I know how to use them safely unless hunting deer); if I drive on public roads I am required to have passed the appropriate test and pay an annual road access tax; if I canoe I am required to have a ticket that I pay for each year; if I fish ..... you get my point.

I know they are not really directly comparable but if what we are saying is we need to be accountable for our activities then maybe we need to be assessed or at least pay and be prepared to prove we have paid.

There is a cost to 'using' the countryside and, maybe, it's the people using it that should pay :)

As I said, being devil's advocate.
 

Toddy

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Jan 21, 2005
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I think the issue is complicated. It's multi stranded.

There's the go for a wander with someone and learn type of bushcraft; we used to just call it going for a daun'er (daunder ? a quiet walk) or walkabout with someone who knows their patch, their area.
It's still 'teaching' but it's not teaching that needs certificates and insurance, etc., etc., etc.,

There's the Outdoor Instructor type of bushcraft that to be honest I railed agin them having to be taught and certificated and so on, but the reality is that if you work in the outdoors as an industry, as a business, then you have to have liabilty insurance, you have to have first aid qualifications, you have to build a reputation, and keep it. It's not just personal responsibility, it's public responsibility and responsibility for others.

Then there's the 'us'. The folks who just quietly go out and enjoy, learn through the seasons, through the years, (and that matters, no course is going to give the reality of the years in nice neat weekends packages; no YouTube adherent will ever learn it all from there. Those are just foundations, a thread of interest, a trail to set out on) have the real satisfaction of knowing, and knowing you got it right and you can do it. That you are able, you are capable, you are aware and very much part of all that's out there.
I don't think we need a certificate to say so.
 
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Bee Outdoors

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Aug 10, 2019
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Manchester
First define "Bushcraft" then define what aspects of it are unique to "Bushcraft", and somehow require you to carry an identity card/licence and thats before you try and licence it.

Then go over "There" and when you get "There" can you just go a bit further away?
Ta muchly.
Exactly my point, wilderness skills like bushcraft consist of so many skills that it takes a lifetime to learn I’m not sure one could be competent enough in a matter of months. I don’t think it will work but that’s just my opinion
 
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nigelp

Full Member
This isn't the official message from NRW or, I suspect, from other forestry organisations. If you trespass and have an accident they are covered by their public liability insurance conditions; if the say it's OK to go in as long as you leave no trace they would have to a) make safe all areas and b) have insurance that covered that particular activity. Clearly they cannot make all areas safe so the kind of activities they allow (and NRW are required to make public access available for recreation) are cycling, horse riding and walking on designated routes which they do inspect regularly and make safe.

I have obtained permission to use forestry land for activities in the past but have always been required to carry my own liability insurance.
It isn’t!
I have a permission with forestry and also require public liability insurance.
 
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nigelp

Full Member
I think the issue is complicated. It's multi stranded.

There's the go for a wander with someone and learn type of bushcraft; we used to just call it going for a daun'er (daunder ? a quiet walk) or walkabout with someone who knows their patch, their area.
It's still 'teaching' but it's not teaching that needs certificates and insurance, etc., etc., etc.,

There's the Outdoor Instructor type of bushcraft that to be honest I railed agin them having to be taught and certificated and so on, but the reality is that if you work in the outdoors as an industry, as a business, then you have to have liabilty insurance, you have to have first aid qualifications, you have to build a reputation, and keep it. It's not just personal responsibility, it's public responsibility and responsibility for others.

Then there's the 'us'. The folks who just quietly go out and enjoy, learn through the seasons, through the years, (and that matters, no course is going to give the reality of the years in nice neat weekends packages; no YouTube adherent will ever learn it all from there. Those are just foundations, a thread of interest, a trail to set out on) have the real satisfaction of knowing, and knowing you got it right and you can do it. That you are able, you are capable, you are aware and very much part of all that's out there.
I don't think we need a certificate to say so.
Exactly that. As a business that is responsible for people’s conduct and safety I have to have appropriate qualifications and insurance etc. I don’t mind that - that’s how I earn a living doing something I enjoy.

Peer learning is a fantastic way to pick up and pass on skills and knowledge.
Also spending time researching and practicing skills and knowledge for your own pleasure and to pass on to others.
I don’t think we will ever get to a point where people need to have a ‘certificate’ to just go out and do there own thing. In the UK we aren’t used to a permit type system for accessing public rights of way and public land. hopefully it stays that way!
 

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