Nature lovers sometimes prefer the quiet contemplation of a stroll through the snowy forest to the mass appeal of downhill skiing. With snow shoeing gaining in popularity each year, some fear that the preservation of the delicate natural environment will eventually be sacrificed on the alter of tourism.

To help save the picture-perfect setting of memorable treks through powdery landscapes, the Swiss Snowshoe Federation has created its own environmental commission, ecOtrace. This body sets out to make the public aware of the need to be careful when exploring nature.

Taking their lesson literally into the field, the commission has convinced 25 regions, including Les Paccots in Switzerland's Fribourg region, to place informative signs along their family-oriented snowshoe trails. On each one- to five-kilometre trail, six signs are posted along the way, showing snowshoers how winter sports affect the environment and reminding them of how they can do their part to preserve the pristine setting.

The mascot, a loveable green rabbit named David Raque't, is present on each sign, reminding visitors of the importance of protecting the forest against the wind, the danger of disturbing wild animals by venturing off piste, and the dangers of bringing unleashed dogs along, which can stress other visitors and the birds of the forest.

The ecOtrace trails offer families a way to teach their children about the importance of protecting the environment.

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