What is Leave No Trace
In its simplest form, 'leave no trace' is the practice of using our wild areas in a way that reduces impact to a minimum. The phrase was used during the 60’s and 70’s in the United States following a large increase in the amount of visitors to wild areas due to the introduction of recreational equipment such as synthetic tents and gas stoves.
The ‘United States Forest Service’ in conjunction with NOLS – the National Outdoor Leadership School, developed the national education program of Leave No Trace in 1990. Since 1994 the “Leave No Trace Centre For Outdoor Ethics”, a non-profit organisation, has existed to educate about recreational impact on nature as well as how to prevent and minimise these impacts through utilisation of seven key principles.
The Leave No Trace organisation has since provided hands on training, workshops and events for over 9.5 million children and adults with representatives in more than 30 countries. There are now international centres in the U.S.A, Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand.
The Seven Principles
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Knowing where you want to go, being prepared for weather changes and emergencies. Where possible, avoiding times of high use and splitting larger groups into smaller.
Pre packing food and removing excess wrapping.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Sticking to established trails of rock, dry grass or snow. Where paths are muddy, stick to the middle rather than walking around.
"Good campsites are found, not made."
Dispose of Waste Properly
Check your campsites and stopping areas for rubbish and spilled food.
"Pack it in, pack it out."
Human waste in a 'cathole' at least 200 feet from water - take tissue out with you! Better still, refer to rule one.
Leave What You Find
Avoid picking live flowers in delicate areas.
"Preserve the past"
Examine, but do not touch or move historic structures and artifacts.
Minimise Campfire Impact
Fires cause long lasting impact on the environment, consider lightweight stoves for cooking where possible.
Use established fire rings or fire pans, and burn only the required wood to a fine ash.
Observe fauna from a distance and avoid feeding and encouragement.
Keep pets under control when appropriate.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Courtesy and politeness goes a long way!
Pause in a convenient place to let others pass whilst walking, take breaks and camp off the path.
More Than 7 Rules
At Life Trek Adventures we feel these seven principles offer a great basis for minimum impact outdoor recreation, they can be applied in any location during any sport or activity. They are also brilliant for teaching with younger children, and make an ideal starter point for those looking deeper into development of environmental ethics.
However, Leave No Trace is also often reduced to seven principles to follow like a guidebook. It is clearly more than this, it is about developing an individual’s relationship and stewardship for the outdoors. For us, it is an area of education often missed within the curriculum and one that should substantiate and be at the heart of outdoor education.
As more and more people begin to use the United Kingdoms wild spaces for their own recreational activities, it is of clear importance to promote practice that encourages sustainability. This can start from an early age and in easy to access locations such as a local park or woodland, even in a back garden.
If you would like to attend a Leave no Trace Trainer course or Awareness Workshop, please get in touch using the contact page!