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  • Writer's pictureHiker Heather

Leave No Trace!

The 7 extremely important Principles of Leave No Trace... Don't be that person, it's just not cool, man...

If you are already an 'outdoorsy' person then you will (hopefully!) already be very familiar with the principles of Leave No Trace and hopefully you have also spent some time considering the impact that we as humans have on the environment, however, as more people are now turning to the outdoors, whether this is because they see and feel the potential that nature has to offer in terms of our mental, physical and spiritual health or quite simply, because they have seen a picture on Instagram and wish to visit said beauty spot, whatever our reasons may be, we must ensure that in the process we remain educated and respectful of these incredible places that we are so blessed to be able to visit. We also need to ensure that we are preserving these places to the best of our abilities, at all times. I was shocked to read that in fact 9 out of 10 people who enjoy the outdoors are actually uninformed about their impact on the environment! I therefore felt compelled to write this blog to share the the principles of Leave No Trace, even if the blog reaches one person who was not already aware of these Principles then that is all that I can hope for... Each and every single one of us has a huge role in protecting Mother Nature and so it is vital that we are aware of our impact on Mother Nature. The Leave No Trace Principles were established by the Leave No Trace Centre for Outdoor Ethics, and built on and further established by the US Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management during the 1980's.

Okay, so let's get into the Principles...

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

The more time spent planning and preparing your trip, prior to the trip itself, will help you accomplish your trip much more safely and enjoyably. Poor planning has the potential of making your trip extremely miserable and uncomfortable and actually, quite dangerous. It has also been shown that poor trip planning can lead to damage of natural resources. Some tips for planning and preparing are -

  1. Know the regulations and any special concerns for the area that you are visiting and plan accordingly.

  2. Prepare for extreme weather by always carrying the appropriate equipment and clothing and additional dry clothing also.

  3. Prepare for any hazards associated with the environment in which you are spending time in.

  4. Check water availability on the trail that you are headed to.

  5. Visit in small groups when possible and consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups to minimise the impact on nature.

  6. Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use, if possible.

  7. Study maps, guidebooks and GPS of your route before setting out on your trip to familiarise yourself with the route and terrain. If you are hitting a popular trail then you can often find blogs and YouTube vlogs about that trail specifically, by reading and watching these blogs, you can gain a better understanding about the trail and the terrain and any issues encountered on trail and so forth.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

When you are travelling then stick to footpaths to avoid further erosion to the surrounding land and once you have reached that wonderful time in the day where you are about to set camp, then try and seek out resilient types of terrain to set camp, for example, established trails and campsites, rock, gravel or dry grass.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

Okay, so this rule applies to all waste - human waste, rubbish (yes even banana skins, orange skin and cigarette ends!!!) and rinse water (from brushing teeth or cleaning pots). Here are the tips for successfully disposing of waste -

  1. 'Pack it in, pack it out' - Once you have packed away your campsite, inspect the area thoroughly for any left over rubbish or spilled foods. Pack out every last thing, including any leftover food. Please always pack out any rubbish that was left there before you and leave the place cleaner than you found it.

  2. Packed a shovel? Excellent! Solid human waste needs to be in catholes dug 6-8 inches deep and at least 200 feet away from water, camp and trails. The cathole should be covered and disguised when finished. Some areas require you to pack out human waste too so know the area in which you are spending time in.

  3. Always pack out your toilet paper - do not put it in the cathole! Always pack out any hygiene or sanitary products too!

  4. To wash yourself or dishes then you need to carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use a small amount of biodegradable soup and then scatter the strained dishwater, again 200 feet away from streams or other water sources.

4. Minimise Campfire Impacts

Whilst some people deem campfires to be an iconic ritual associated with camping, they can also be the most destructive and for this reason, I do not make campfires myself and stick to my lightweight stove for cooking. If you do wish to make a fire when camping then here are some tips -

  1. Firstly, ensure that fires are actually permitted in the area in which you are hoping to make a fire.

  2. Ensure that you have a source of water close by for emergencies.

  3. Use established fire pits, fire rings or mound fires.

  4. Keep fires small. Use only sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand and never take live wood.

  5. Burn all wood and coals to ash and ensure that campfires are put out completing and scatter any cool ashes.

  6. Make sure that you keep the fire contained at all times.

  7. Burn 'fuel' in small quantities to limit the amount of smoke.

  8. Don't bring firewood from home, this could introduce new pests and diseases. Either buy it from a local source or gather it responsibly where allowed.

5. Leave What You Find

Tempted to pick a bouquet of wild flowers to take home? What if everyone did this? There would be none left! As the old saying goes 'take only pictures, leave only footprints'... Here are some tips to achieve this -

  1. Preserve the past - examine and look but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artefacts.

  2. Leave rocks, flowers, plants, leaves and other natural objects as you find them.

  3. Clean your boots between trips to ensure that you are not transporting and introducing non-native species.

  4. Do not build structures.

6. Respect wildlife

Don't approach or disturb animals in their environment, I always see it that we as humans are merely passing through, the environment that we are treading belongs to the animals and wildlife that reside there, we as humans have already taken too much of that away from them already... Please also help by following these tips -

  1. Don't approach or disturb animals, birds or bird nests, turn to the zoom on your camera or pack a small pair of binoculars instead.

  2. Always observe wildlife from a distance and do not follow or approach them.

  3. Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely at all times.

  4. Keep your dog under control at all times or leave them at home.

  5. Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising your or winter.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

So you know that saying 'treat others how you wish to be treat', that also applies to the outdoors also, here are some tips to help us all achieve this -

  1. Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.

  2. Be courteous - say 'hello'! It is common here in the UK for us to say 'hello' to each other when we pass each other on the hills or trail.

  3. Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering horses or mules.

  4. Take breaks away from others who may be taking a break, respect their privacy.

  5. Similarly, camp away from others.

  6. No loud voices or noises - let the sound of nature prevail.

  7. Manage your pet.

Thank you so much for reading this blog post, let's help protect Mother Nature the best we can! If you know someone that is just getting into the outdoors then please share this blog post with them and let's help each other stay informed! Head over to the Leave No Trace website for further information & reading.

1 comment

1 comentário

Леонид Громов
Леонид Громов
20 de mar. de 2022

Really cool post and advices how to protect Mother Nature. And same time enjoying your travel

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