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    Leave No Trace

    The Importance of Leave No Trace

    By AlexToddGeneral

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    Leave No Trace is an organization dedicated to raising environmental awareness and promoting a conscious effort by outdoor enthusiasts to protect this amazing planet that many take for granted. Read on to discover how you can implement Leave No Trace principles on your own adventures to help preserve the environment and leave it in a pristine state for future generations to enjoy.

    Humans have a tendency to leave quite an impact wherever they go, with even the smallest of actions having a great effect on the surrounding environment; however, this impact often goes unnoticed due to a greater inability to see beyond our own needs – both individually and collectively as a society.

    When we remove ourselves from the everyday and step out into nature, the impact of humanity becomes far more apparent. There is an ever-increasing number of people worldwide that utilize the outdoors for recreation, which is a fantastic thing in a lot of ways, but when it comes to the health of the natural environment and the strain we are putting on it, our impact starts to become far more noticeable.

    That is why Leave No Trace principles are so important. If we are going to utilize the outdoors for our own needs, we also have to consider the needs of the environment so that we can preserve and protect the very things that make it such a valuable resource for us.

    For 10Adventures Founder Richard Campbell, the importance of Leave No Trace Principles has always been a no brainer: “I’ve been fortunate enough to spend most of my life with the Canadian Rockies in my backyard, and I couldn’t imagine a world in which my children grow up without being able to explore them in a pristine state. Practicing Leave No Trace principles is something that I’ve taught them early on, with the hope that they will be able to continue enjoying the outdoors for years to come.”

    With all of that being said, let’s take a look at the 7 Leave No Trace Principles to give you an idea of how to implement them into your future outdoor experiences.

    7 Principles

    The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace

    1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

    Planning out your adventures and arriving prepared is a great way to reduce your impact on the environment. Familiarizing yourself with the landscape, looking up weather patterns, and learning about local dangers are all great practices that will help you to avoid causing environmental damage when you encounter unexpected circumstances.

    Another thing to plan and prepare is all of your meals. Take into consideration the types of foods you want to eat, the waste they produce, and the requirements needed to prepare them. If possible, try to cook one pot meals on a portable camp stove, as this is a great solution to reduce your footprint.

    2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

    The main goal of the Leave No Trace program is to prevent environmental damage that results from our use of the outdoors, so it makes sense that one of the easiest ways to promote this is by sticking to established trails and campsites.

    Every time you go off trail you do harmful damage to plant and animal life in the surrounding area, and also contribute to soil erosion that further damages the landscape. While it is true that the creation of trails has its own impact on the environment, it is necessary if we want to protect the environment and prevent further damage.

    There are certain instances where our activities will inevitably lead us into the backcountry with little access to any infrastructure like man made trails or dedicated campsites. If you do find yourself exploring less-trafficked areas such as these, try to make use of durable terrain such as rock, gravel, and sand to lessen your impact on the surrounding vegetation. Another great option is to make use of snow and ice if you are spending time outdoors in the winter, as they will eventually melt and leave no trace of you being there!

    3. Dispose of Waste Properly

    Nothing is more frustrating than setting out for a fun day outdoors, only to be met by litter around every corner of the trail. Not only does the careless act of littering ruin the outdoor atmosphere for anyone else using the trail, it also has a lasting impact on the plant and animal life in the area. Make sure to always pack out what you pack in – which includes biodegradable waste like food scraps!

    But while improper disposal of trash is one thing we can all easily control, there is another element of waste that is a bit more tricky – human waste. It is always best to use toilet facilities if there are some nearby, but if not, be sure to follow all local regulations when it comes to disposing of human waste. In most cases this will involve walking at least 60m away from water sources, campsites, and trails, before digging a 15-20cm hole to bury your business in.

    4. Leave What You Find

    While it may be tempting to gather souvenirs from every hike you set out on, the best practice is to leave everything in place as you found it to avoid disturbing the balance of the ecosystem. As the old saying goes “take only pictures, leave only footprints!”

    5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

    Campfires are something of a ritual or tradition for many people who spend time outdoors, but everyone needs to consider the impact that fires have on the environment, both locally and regionally. If you do feel the need to build a campfire, you should try to leave the area looking as it did when you arrived, ideally having contained the fire within an existing fire pit.

    On a larger scale, campfires can obviously cause serious destruction if they cannot be contained and end up spreading into wildfires. The vast majority of wildfires are the result of human interaction, so make sure to follow all local regulations if you absolutely need to have a fire.

    Even on a smaller, more local level, campfires can still have a detrimental effect on the environment. Bringing wood from an outside area can introduce non-native insects and disease to a region, which can have a devastating effect on the ecosystem, and harvesting wood from living trees can also be harmful for any creatures living in the area. If you plan on having a fire, make sure to purchase locally sourced wood or to scavenge dead wood from the forest floor.

    6. Respect Wildlife

    Respecting wildlife is something that most outdoor enthusiasts are onboard with, but some people might not realize that they are inadvertently having a negative effect on the wildlife surrounding them.

    Seeing animals in the wild is an incredible experience, but we need to remember that we are guests in a given habitat when we spend time outdoors. Do your best to avoid disturbing food and water sources, as these play a vital role in the balance of an ecosystem. Similarly, you should never feed wild animals that you encounter on the trail, as it will promote a dependency that can have detrimental effects.

    Lastly, you should never threaten, chase, or follow wild animals for any reason. Simply let them be and enjoy the pleasure of viewing them from a distance.

    7. Be Considerate of Others

    Everyone has a different reason for getting outside, whether it is to enjoy some peace and quiet, to get some exercise, or to simply disconnect and get away from it all. Whatever the reason may be, it is important to respect those around you so that everyone can enjoy their time on the trail.

    Make sure to keep your pets under control, avoid playing loud music, and to minimize your effect on the surrounding area to keep it pristine for all. Remember, your time outdoors is no more important than anyone else's, so try to be as considerate as possible when out on the trail.

    Future Generations

    Preserving the Environment for Future Generations

    It’s easy to see how the Leave No Trace principles above can be utilized to reduce our footprint and preserve the environment, both of which are critical things to consider if we want to ensure that the outdoors will be a usable resource for years to come. However, there needs to be a widespread implementation of the Leave No Trace program that starts with children of a young age if we want that dream to become a reality.

    Take the time to learn the ins and outs of each principle so that you can practice them yourself, but also so that you can pass them onto your children and grandchildren. It only takes a small effort on behalf of each of us, but that small effort can really go a long way towards protecting the plants, animals, and landscapes that we all enjoy – and that make us want to get outside in the first place!

    Practicing the Leave No Trace principles is a responsibility that belongs to all of us who enjoy the outdoors and it is something that we must vehemently uphold if we want to preserve the environment for future generations.

    Download the 10Adventures Trail App

    Looking for a tool that will help you to minimize your impact on the environment? Download the 10Adventures Trail App on iOS or Android to confidently navigate the outdoors and stay on the right path. With detailed route descriptions and the ability to track your GPS position in real time, you will be armed with all of the information you need to enjoy nature without having a destructive impact on your surroundings.




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