The Importance of the “Leave No Trace” Philosophy

The Importance of the “Leave No Trace” Philosophy

Article Written by Isabella Granara

Leave No Trace is an organization that works with the public and those managing public lands. Their main focus is to provide education, skills, and research to help people care for the outdoors. Their mission is as follows:

“The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics protects the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly. The Center accomplishes this mission by delivering cutting-edge education and research to millions of people every year. Enjoy your world. Leave No Trace.”

There are Seven Principles of Leave No Trace that can help you minimize your impact when visiting the outdoors anywhere.

(How to Have Fun Outdoors is not affiliated with Leave No Trace. Thank you for your support.)

Principle 1: Plan Ahead and Prepare

Always take advantage of trip planning and preparation – poor planning often leads to damage of natural/cultural resources. It also leads to very unhappy campers. Trip planning ensures the safety of your group, minimizes resource damage, and increases your self-confidence!

Principle 2: Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Traveling/camping in durable places can protect surface vegetation/communities of organisms being trampled upon. Sometimes people trample them beyond recovery. Trails are constructed to provide identifiable routes, use them!

Principle 3: Dispose of Waste Properly

Leaving behind waste undoubtedly affects other people, water, and wildlife. Whether its human waste, trash, food, etc., you are responsible for it. Keep in mind that you cannot count on a fire to dispose of certain materials. Buried or half-burned garbage attracts animals and makes the site unattractive.

Principle 4: Leave What You Find

When you go into the outdoors, minimize your site alterations, and leave areas as you found them. Don’t take plants/rocks, dig trenches for your tents, etc. Moving legally constructed facilities, such as a fire ring, should be left in place – if they are dismantled, they will be rebuilt and thus will impact a new area. Remember that good campsites are found, not made.

Principle 5: Minimize Campfire Impacts

The natural appearance of many areas have been degraded by overuse of fires and the need for firewood. We no longer need to build campfires for food due to the development of camp stoves. They are fast and eliminate firewood availability! Leave No Trace strongly encourages you to use them.

Principle 6: Respect Wildlife

You should not disturb wildlife or plants for your own entertainment. Observe wildlife from a distance so they are not scared and choose to flee. Keep your group small to minimize your impacts – travel quietly and do not pursue or feed animals. (One exception is in bear country where you should make a little noise so as not to startle the bears). Animals can be dangerous and may harbor rabies or other diseases.

Principle 7: Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Help everyone enjoy their outdoor experience! Excessive noise, uncontrolled pets, and damaged surroundings take away from the appeal of being outdoors. They recommend avoding trips on holidays and busy weekends. Really consider how your experience is affecting someone else’s and be courteous of those around you! 

Leave No Trace takes on numerous challenges when it comes to the outdoors. See what they’re working on now by clicking here. How to Have Fun Outdoors encourages all our followers to implement these seven principles when outdoors to ensure everyone can have fun!

Have any other principles you want to share? Comment them down below! And don’t forget to subscribe to How to Have Fun Outdoors here!