What is leave no trace? Why is it important?
“Leave No Trace Canada is a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and inspiring responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships. Leave No Trace builds awareness, appreciation and respect for our wildlands.” -LNT
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Human impact on nature is no joke. Beyond things such as pollution and mass construction, there are actually many things we do, although seemingly harmless, that directly impact nature and cause unnatural and destructive changes within it.
With peoples’ increasing desire to travel and get outdoors, it is vital for all of us to not only be appreciative and respectful of the place we’re exploring, but to be aware of our personal impact on it. So, Leave No Trace has established 7 principles to guide and teach us how to minimize our impacts.
The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards and emergencies
- Schedule your event to avoid times of high use
- Scout your route to avoid getting lost
- Ensure that the groups skills match the requirements of the activity
- Durable surfaces included established trails, rock, gravel, or dry grasses.
- Never alter a site to suit your needs
In popular areas:
- Walk in a single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy
- Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent
In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of trails
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your rest areas for garbage or spilled foods. Pack out all garbage, left over food and litter.
- Use toilets where available. If not, deposit solid human waste in “cat holes” dug 15 to 20 cm deep atleast 60m from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cat hole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- Avoid polluting water. On a one-day event there should be no need to wash yourself.
- Preserve the past, observe but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species,
- Do not build structures, rock cairns, or use flagging or marking paint
- Where fire are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans or mound fires
- Fires should not be lit on any type of vegetated surface, to avoid the risk of the fire spreading; put them only on bare mineral spoil.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Do not try to burn leftover food or other garbage that would have to be removed later.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters their natural behaviours, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing food and garbage securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times, such as when mating, nesting, raising young, or during winter.
- Respect others and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous, yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.