Orienteering and the Environment

IOF has published the report with the results of the survey “Orienteering and the Environment”. Issues related to the disturbance of vegetation and wildlife appear as the most common, whereas the use of materials and energy rank lower.

The preservation of the environment is a key pillar of the IOF sustainability ambition but the relationship between orienteering and the environment has clear implications also on the other two pillars of sustainability, social and economic. The information gathered will help to improve the performance of the IOF and its Member Federations and define priorities in the years to come.

The survey follows an analogous survey carried out in 2011 to understand the main issues faced by the orienteering movement in different countries. With the current survey we could update the situation with a broader response. The areas covered by the survey were the following:

  • National circumstances regarding environmental issues related to orienteering.
  • Significance of specific environment issues related to orienteering.
  • Possible environmental conflicts occurred in connection with the organization of orient-eering activities.
  • Measures taken at the national level for the management of orienteering’s environmental issues.
  • Needs of support from the IOF on environmental issues

Issues related to the disturbance of vegetation and wildlife appear as the most common, whereas the use of materials and energy rank lower, probably reflecting the moderate use of both in orienteering events. However, it must be noted that all nine categories included in the survey received a full range of replies, from “not important” to “very important”.

Legislation on nature conservation is the most common in affecting orienteering (for over 90% of respondents), followed by rules on access to land, both private and public; a high rank also of regulation of hunting points at a high relevance of appropriate relationships with stakeholders. Indeed, events in most countries require permissions from landowners, more often than from environmental and police authorities, which are also necessary in more than 50% of the countries.

Relationships with stakeholders are generally based on advance information when dealing with private actors and written notice with authorities. As far as environmentally concerned stakeholders are concerned, the relationship is generally with official authorities and much less with environmental NGOs.

Again, when conflicts are reported, by far the most frequent ones are with landowners over access, followed by conflicts with environmental authorities for access to conservation areas.

A relative majority of Member Federations has incorporated environmental issues in their strategy, have a commission or an individual appointed as reference for environmental as-pects and include environmental protection in training courses for organisers and course planners. However, when it comes to specific, more focused actions, such as the production of educational materials, the establishment of environmental targets, the collection of data, only a few federations have reported concrete initiatives.

Most Federations report absence of knowledge about scientific approaches to the study of the environmental impact of orienteering, the impact or lack of it being generally based on anecdotal evidence. Possibly a consequence of that, it appears that the environment-friendly nature of orienteering is an argument used to attract new practitioners for only half of re-spondents. As for sponsors, the percentage is somehow higher than in 2011, but limited to 2/3 of the cases.

Scientific studies addressing the actual environmental impact of orienteering is the most frequently cited kind of support desired by Member Federations, followed by practical guidelines on the organisation of events.

You can access the full report here: Orienteering and the Environment – IOF Survey