leave no trace

The ‘tug’ of the wildlands is, in great part, due to its wild-ness. This pristine, unsullied environment is a place of rawness and beauty. A place of elemental simplicity overlaid with the perfect symmetry of nature. It should remain that way. For me it is important to share this responsibility of preserving its integrity – so it remains for our children and their children’s children. I am not one for ‘policies’ but the following statement is my belief and one I hope that you will share and take with you into the wilderness:

When preparing

  • Understand the environment your will be travelling through – not just the topography, but the biology, geology, culture, metreology, any regulations and potential hazards/considerations
  • Avoid travelling in an area at peak time or during ‘closed’ season that might interrupt nesting/mating (unless it is your intention to observe these activities)
  • Keep group size to a minimum
  • Repackage food to minimize waste
  • Prepare and equip for extreme events or emergencies

When travelling:

  • Travel on durable surfaces that are frequently used and keep to the centre of the path to avoid eroding its edges
  • Avoid way-marking (including building cairns)
  • If possible avoid ‘beating paths’ but if travelling through pristine area then it might be worth dispersing your travel over the same surface to reduce impact and ‘trail creation’.
  • Try and leave the geology, plantlife, wildlife and cultural/historic artifacts as you have found them.

When camping:

  • Avoid water/land margins by camping at least 50 metres from these areas.
  • Camp on a durable surface especially where vegetation may be absent
  • Avoid making a campsite – look for a suitable one rather than ‘hewing’ it from nature
  • If it is a popular area then use existing campsites and focus impact on compacted area. If it is a pristine area then disperse your impact as widely as possible but avoid areas which are showing signs of impact already (this will just make them worse and reduce recovery time)
  • Avoid camping on game runs and trails this will impact on natural behavour patterns
  • If you build natural shelters then consider what materials you are using – these could contain rare plant matter, it could damage the plant it is taken from significantly, it may already be home to animals, birds and insects or other plant life. Once you have finished using the shelter then consider dismantling it and returning the materials to a ‘natural state’.
  • Avoid making structures, camp items or groundworks that are inappropriiate for the conditions and duration of the stay.
  • Ensure any effluent and waste from camp activities is disposed of at least 50 metres from any water source. Washing liquid etc should be biodegradable and water should be scattered to reduce compaction/impact on soil in once area. Latrines should be dug 8 inches deep and try and keep wet and dry human waste separate). Cover and disguise latrine when finished – if it is a popular area then consider marking the spot with upright crossed branches to allow time for breakdown of matter before site re-use
  • Pack it in, pack it out (litter and even toilet paper)
  • Avoid camping on sites of obvious historic, cultural, geological or natural value.

Having fire:

  • A fire can both scar (visually and biologically) a site for decades – consider using a stove and lantern instead.
  • A fire can spread
  • A fire consumes wood – wood is a valuable resource for nature and is home to insects, plants, fungi and animals. Keep the fire small and only use sticks that can be broken by hand – thereby ensuring the thicker wood is preserved.
  • If you need to have a campfire then consider where you place it – consider the fragility of the substrate and any roots or burrows underneath. Do not place a fire near a tree or a burrow/nest. Consider the flammable nature of the soil (ie: peat). Consider if you should ‘mound’up’ soil in order to insulate the ground from the fire by having the fire on the mound.
  • Clear the leaf matter from the ground under and around the fire (and recover site when finished) Ensure that all the wood burned has been fully consumed and that the cool/wet ash has been broken up and scattered. Ensure that the burn site is totally cool – even down within the substrate.
  • If you are having a fire in a frequently used site then use established fire spots, circles or mounds. Better to use impacted sites rather than creating new ones.

The Wildlife:

  • Observe wildlife from a distance – try not to disturb usual behaviour (the baseline) patterns. This means not camping or blocking runs or trails, not disturbing nesting or resting sites – especially during the breeding season or during hibernation.
  • Ensure that your impact does not unbalance the ecosytem and open the environment up to injury, damage, disease or predators through your actions.
  • Secure your provisions against feeding animals and predators
  • Keep pets (dogs) under control or leave at home.

Being considerate

  • Respect nature
  • Respect visitors and fellow travellers
  • Respect indigenous peoples, their cultures, rights and property
  • Keep your visual and aural impact to a minimum
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