Photo: Fiona Duff
The Club has a strong environmental ethic. We love to paddle in the fantastic waters in and around Scotland, enjoying the freedom that Scotland’s unique access regulations provide. Some of our members are professional biologists, foresters or field workers, many are keen naturalists. All our members appreciate their encounters with dolphins, otters, whales, ospreys, eagles and seals – wildlife many people may never have the opportunity to see.
These privileges have consequent responsibilities. All our members respect and value our amazing natural environment. We also try to respect others enjoying the countryside as we go on our way: treating those fishing considerately, car sharing, parking carefully and minimising noise around others who are also enjoying the scenery. On Club trips, we have a strong “leave no trace ethic”, being careful to take home all litter, to dispose of human waste responsibly, to take care with camp fires and to wild camp only in small groups of no more than 8 to minimise disturbance and impact on the environment.
Though emphasising the marine environment, there are two articles which should be essential reading for all paddlers: the British Canoe Union’s ‘You, Your Canoe and the Marine Environment’, and the Scottish Canoe Association’s ‘Kayaking – A Guide to Good Environmental Practice’ .
Living and paddling in the Highlands, we may be lucky enough to come across species with protected status and Inverness Canoe Club has developed specific guidance for such encounters. The Moray Firth has one of the few resident populations of Bottle-nosed Dolphins in the UK, so – in consultation with Scottish Natural Heritage – we have a developed a Code of Conduct, which sets out good paddling practice around these beautiful animals. We have also drawn up guidance on paddling in the Aigas Gorge, where a number of birds of prey, including Ospreys, Peregrines and Red Kites, can be found during the breeding season.
We have also some guidelines for paddlers approaching sea birds.