Tread gently, move quietly, respect peacefully... The idea of Leave No Trace was created in the USA during the 1960’s due to the increase of land use by the public. Since then its principles have spread across the world!
I became a trainer a number of years ago and work to the code, wherever I travel in the world…
Here's a few tips to help you ‘Leave No Trace'...
“Prep, prep, prep” is a phrase I say time again, about going outdoors. Though things always change, if we’re prepared, we can deal with those changes and have a much better experience. We can save time, reduce pollution and enhance safety.
Learning to navigate well will help!
Whilst it’s fun to scream out from a Mountain Top or play loud music on your iPad, please remember that the outdoors is not just for you. Other people walk/climb/cycle etc. too, and nature lives there.
In Great Britain we have a huge reliance on farming. The reason that our landscape has evolved is mainly due to livestock and agriculture. However, animals are not toys and working farms are not places for petting livestock.
Insects, reptiles, birds and mammals also feel the pressure of human intervention.
As humans we put a great deal of pressure on the land. Sheer weight of numbers mean that popular areas become heavily eroded very quickly. The following figures (based on the number of people per sq. km) speak volumes.
In the UK...
Compared to some of our European neighbours...
Durable surfaces include established paths and campsites, rock, gravel, sand, dry grasses or snow. The BMC and National Trust have been working to restore some of the most eroded paths in the UK and many long distance paths have been surfaced, but we must remain vigilant.
Whilst it’s very tempting to build cairns, make seats, throw stones and pick flowers, the countryside is a surprisingly delicate place. There are also a great many historical sites which require long term preservation.
Good campsites are found not made.
Will someone please tell me why folk bag up dog muck and leave it on the path?!
Here’s a few timescales of waste decay (these depend on good soils and plenty of bacteria to help).
Paper - 2-4 weeks
Banana skin - 3-5 weeks
Wool hat - 1 year
Cigarette butt - 2-5 years
Disposable nappy - 10-20 years
Tin can - 80-100 years
Aluminum can - 200-400 years
Glass Bottle – 1000’s of years (ask the Egyptians)
As humans, we create many types of waste. We have no right to leave any of them for others or nature to find.
Consider the waste facilities of the area that you’re in. Should you really leave your group waste in remote bins which can’t cope, or take it home?
Another way you can make a difference is to join Plastic Patrol and help clean up our waterways!
I have volunteered for the Peak District National Park on many occasions. One such day was fighting a large moorland fire near Lads Leap in the Longendale Valley.
Under every sod of turf a fire was raging and many volunteers dug, hosed and beat until we were exhausted, covered in ash and coughing up dust.
The fire had been started by a scourge of convenience – the disposable BBQ. You only have to go your local park to find black, burned squares on the grass.
It has far reaching impacts. Farming today reported recently that the recent fire on Saddleworth Moor not only destroyed miles of countryside, but also stripped a farmers land, burned his livestock and cost thousands in transport and finding new grazing.
Fire is not to be underestimated. Fire is not a toy. Fire is not a joke.
When you think of Leave No Trace, imagine people coming into your house or garden. Would you like them leaving litter, making noise, moving things around, treading on your flowers, stealing your property, lighting fires and piling in by the thousand?
If not, then treat the outdoors the same.
Read up on the Countryside Code
It's nature's house…