WildEndurance is working with other endurance events to explore sustainable event management strategies. We want to start a conversation that leads to the establishment of high-quality sustainability standards for events of this type. Many similar events are innovating and showing leadership - its time we all got together and brought about something amazing!
On June 14th 2012, we presented our work on sustainable event management at an initial meeting for events organisers in Blackheath (thanks to the NPWS for hosting). You can download a copy of the presentation here.
We want this project to stay public and transparent as it unfolds - that's why we've posted these first slides up online. If you are in the industry or are a participant in WildEndurance or similar events, and you have an interest in this project, then we'd love to hear from you. Drop an email to email@example.com
Low-water flush toilets that use non-toxic plant based sanitising products. This helps reduce our impact upon water resources and eliminates harmful toxic chemicals from the sewerage. As a result it can be treated by Sydney Catchment Authority and eventually end up as compost used in the landscaping industry.
Biodiesel generation of all off-grid power. The fuel used is formulated from Australian grown soya bean oil. This is a great step in the right direction as we seek to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we burn.
Coffee (from Marion's Coffee Cart) is all sourced through a community partnership with a village in the mountains of PNG. They keep things small scale and simple in a way that cares for both the people and the land.
All food for volunteers is being prepared by a small local business using locally grown organic food.
Waste separation to reduce landfill. Volunteers will be on hand to manage designated waste sorting stations that separate recycling and compost. We are working with the Katoomba Community Garden who are taking all the compost produced at the event.
There are more and more adventure events of this type popping up around the place. We are working through the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute, with a Masters of Environmental Management student at UNSW, to assess the impact of our event on particular sections of the course and to determine a best practice plan for future years based upon an in-depth review of international literature on the subject.
We are the first event in the Blue Mountains to take active measures towards Phytophthora control. Phytophthora is an invasive fungal disease of trees which causes die-back and can kill vast areas of bushland. WildEndurance is applying best practice guidelines published by the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens Trust.
The following is based upon the Bushwalkers Code of the Confederation of Bushwalkers NSW. This applies to you as a support crew as much as your team, especially if you plan on taking any smaller walks yourselves over the weekend. Take some time to go through these points together.
Enjoy the natural landscape as it is, on nature's terms. Carry with you the things you need for your comfort and safety. Do not camp/rest in an overhang with Indigenous rock art, as the art can be damaged by dust, smoke and fumes (See also 'Respect Indigenous Heritage')
Avoid bunching up with other teams and walkers. By spacing out you'll help minimize wear to the track. On zigzag paths, don't cut corners as this creates unsightly damage that leads to erosion. Except in really rough terrain, wear lightweight, soft-soled walking shoes or joggers rather than heavy boots. Stick to marked tracks at all times. The WildEndurance course is well-marked for the entire 100km of the race. All markers will be removed after the event.
Know what to do in emergencies. Rescue operations often cause serious damage, so take care to avoid the need for rescue. Make sure that your team has basic First Aid knowledge so you know how to handle illness and injuries. All check-points will have first-aid kits and qualified first-aid practitioners on duty (please refer to first-aid section of the event guide for more information). Carry clothing and equipment to suit the worst possible conditions you are likely to encounter.
Don't carry glass bottles and jars, cans, drink cartons lined with aluminium foil and excess packaging. If you can't resist carrying such things, don't leave them in the bush. Remember, if you can carry a full container in, you can easily carry the empty one out. Remove all your rubbish including food scraps, paper, plastic, aluminium foil and empty containers. Don't burn or bury rubbish. Burning creates pollution and buried rubbish may be dug up and scattered by animals. Digging also disturbs the soil, causing erosion and encouraging weeds. Carry a plastic bag for your rubbish. If you find litter left by irresponsible people along the track or around a campsite, please remove it. Show you care for the environment, even if others don't. When walking in scrubby country, do not strap items in plastic bags outside your pack or the bush will end up littered with pieces of plastic!
All checkpoints will have a Waste Sorting Station. Please help our volunteers by correctly sorting out your recycling and compostable materials and placing them in the correct bins.
All checkpoints on the course will have toilet facilities however we realise that nature can call anywhere along the course. If you need to go to the toilet when out in the bush, ensure you are at least 15m from the trail and 50m from creeks and lakes. Avoid sensitive areas such as caves and canyons. Bury all faeces at least 15cm deep. Make sure that your group carries a lightweight plastic trowel or a large aluminium tent peg to make digging easier. Carry out toilet paper and things that won't easily decompose, such as used sanitary items. Outdoor stores sell hygenic ziplock bags for this purpose.
Wash hands, cooking and eating utensils well back from the edge of lakes and creeks so waste water falls on soil where it will be absorbed. Avoid the use of any soap, detergent or toothpaste in the bush. Don't let oils and food scraps get into creeks or lakes. If support crews wish to provide cleaning products at check points then only biodegradable plant-based cleaning products are permitted under the event sustainability guidelines (e.g. the easily available Earth-brand products).
The lighting of fires out on the course is strictly prohibited (unless in a medical emergency). Dunphy's Camp and Queen Victoria Hospital (CP2) will have official communal fires in self-contained metal drums. Do not dispose of any rubbish in the communal camp fires - take it to the waste sorting and collection point. Portable gas stoves are allowed at checkpoints. If lighting an emergency fire keep it small, situate it on bare earth or sand, brush away dead plant material surrounding the spot, use only fallen dead wood and douse the spot thoroughly in water when you leave.
Camping is possible at Dunphy's Camp (start) and Queen Victoria Hospital (CP2). Please camp only within marked areas. Leave your campsite pristine. After a few days it should be impossible to see where you were camped.
Try not to disturb wildlife. Remember, you are the trespasser. Give snakes a wide berth and leave them alone. They have more right to be there than you do. Watch where you put your feet. Walk around delicate plants. Never break off branches. Don't feed birds and animals or they may become pests. Unnatural food can be harmful to many species.
Many places have spiritual or cultural significance for our Indigenous communities. Treat such places with consideration and respect. Leave Indigenous relics as you find them. Don't touch paintings or rock engravings.
Keep noise to a minimum. The sound of radios, CD players, mobile phones and similar devices is out of place in the natural environment. Keep your mobile phone on silent or else switch it off unless required for an emergency. Ensure your behaviour and activities don't disturb or offend others. Leave gates and slip rails as you find them. When you open a gate, make sure the last person through knows it has to be closed. Respect the rights of landholders and land managers. Don't enter private property without permission.
Offer what is required to help others in need. This could be your group leader, who may be carrying group safety items, someone in the group who has injured themselves, or another group who may not have communications to summon emergency medical aid. Recognise that some individuals may need your help but will never ask.
WildEndurance 201 includes active management of Phytophthora cinnamomi contamination risk: Phytophthora is an invasive fungal disease of native trees which causes the rapid death of large trees, effects large swathes of land and is spread rapidly. Phytophthora is a major concern and is on the increase in NSW. It is known to be present at various places throughout the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and is spread through transmission of contaminated soil.
With up to 700 participants expected, plus all the support crews, we recognise the potential threat of transmission of Phytophthora through contaminated soil on footwear and vehicle tyres.
Phytophthora protocol for the event is based upon the Best Practice Management guidelines for Phytophthora cinnamomi within the Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority Area, produced by the Botanic Gardens Trust Sydney.
Each checkpoint will include a Phytophthora Control Station. This will be situated next to the Waste Sorting Station.
Key task: Prevent transmission of soil and mud at key locations and sterilise surfaces in contact with soil and mud (footwear, hiking poles, tent pegs, etc).
In order to effectively control the spread of Phytophthora, an event volunteers will actively ensure that all participants passing through a checkpoint have checked, cleaned and sterilised their footwear and equipment. The procedure includes
1. Ensuring that footwear is scraped clean of soil using tools provided.
2. Checking walking poles for soil build-up and cleaning as required.
3. Using spray bottle to sterilise base of footwear plus base of walking poles/other potentially contaminated gear.
WildEndurance 2012 will be trialing a waste streaming policy aimed at significantly reducing waste to landfill. Our aim is to achieve zero waste to landfill in the next few years. To make this a reality we need your help!
Be mindful of the waste you create and try to reduce it as much as possible. Don't bring disposable containers like plastic bottles, cans and take-away tubs to the event. Bring drinks in re-usable bottles and flasks. Bring snacks in Tupperware or re-usable zip-lock bags. Also, absolutely no glass on site!
If you create it, you take responsibility for it! If you're generating non-recyclable or non-compostable waste then take it away with you (apart from anything else, disposing of stuff to landfill costs TWS money!). Encourage people to take their waste home!
Remember, everyone here is a guest in a fragile wilderness - respect it. Never drop litter and remind others of this. Take your rubbish away with you or place it in the correct bin provided.
The start at Dunphy's Camp, the finish line and all the checkpoints will have a Waste Sorting Station. This will consist of three colour-coded bins for recycling (yellow), landfill (red) and compost (green). Each bin will be clearly marked and include a list of what you can and can't put in it.
Please pay attention, get to know your waste and help those around you to do the same. This is the first year we've tried a more sustainable approach to waste at WildEndurance. Its success depends upon you! Help us to make it work!
Compostable items include:
We're proud to announce that the wonderful folk at Katoomba Community Garden are kindly taking the compostable waste from the event. They will be turning it into beautiful compost for the garden. Please help them out by only putting approved items in the compost bin. If in doubt, ask a member of the sustainability crew for help.
STOP! Are you sure you can't compost or recycle it?
What can you do in future to prevent throwing more stuff like this away?
WildEndurance is set in one of the most stunning and unique pieces of wilderness in the world. You are one of the privileged few who will not only get to see it, but to totally immerse yourself in it for 36 hours. The Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is home to a remarkable array of native species, many of which are highly endangered or threatened by habitat loss.
This year we have worked with local Blackheath legend Wyn Jones - a botanist and environmental educator - to produce an interactive environmental art installation on the course. We have a list of 21 key local species of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. These have been turned into stylised signs which will be placed along the course in correspondence to their appropriate habitats. You can download a species key with info and tips for spotting each local inhabitant. Have a read through before the event. What's that high pitched call up in the trees at night? It's probably a yellow-bellied glider. What was that large black skink by the Hanging swamp? It was the highly endangered Blue Mountains Water Skink, a creature that lives in only a handful of locations in the Blue Mountains and nowhere else.
A lot of the species on our list are in serious trouble these days due to habitat destruction - an issue that we at The Wilderness Society care about passionately. The Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is an incredible refuge for these species. It is their home and you will be guests there. Think about this before and during your visit and approach your journey through the landscape as a rare and privileged opportunity to discover this stunning wilderness. Treat the place and the animals that live there with respect - they'll be watching you! And do take time to familiarise yourself with the species info on the website.
Once, people who cared fought to protect the Blue Mountains. Now, because of their efforts, you and others can enjoy their magic as nature intended. By supporting WildEndurance you are making an incredible contribution to the work of The Wilderness Society and thus helping protect other wild places. We exist to fight for and give voice to the wild places that make Australia so special. The Blue Mountains is a success story but plenty of other places and species out there are still under threat. Thank you so much for your support.