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The good, the bad and the ugly – three approaches to management of human waste in a high-mountain environment

Apollo, Michal
The International journal of environmental studies 2017 v.74 no.1 pp. 129-158
altitude, feces, selection criteria, urine
Each year, millions of mountaineers visit high-mountain areas. They generate tonnes of faeces and cubic hectometres of urine annually. Thus, proper disposal of human waste is important for the conservation and appropriate management of high-mountain areas. The management can address the issue in three ways: the good (complete/non-invasive); the bad (partial/superficial); and the ugly (invasive). With use of those categories, 20 selected summits from different parts of the world have been evaluated, separately in respect to faeces and urine. It was expected that correct or incorrect disposal of human waste would depend on the changing altitude and/or development level. Disappointingly, the correlation between selection criteria (better or worse solution) and the increase of altitude does not exist. Similarly, the increase of the development level does not play a significant role, especially when urine is taken under consideration. The problem is more global than was thought. The paper makes recommendations which could lead to reduction of this problem.