Leave No Trace = Enjoy the Outdoors Without Disrupting Nature
Many people enjoy getting outdoors and enjoying nature which is why the “leave no trace” principle is important. Earth is home to incredible beauty and spectacular wildlife. These natural wonders are available for everyone to enjoy, and should be cherished and protected. This is why it is vital for you to leave no trace behind when you are exploring the outdoors.
Keep it Clean
When we go camping, hiking, or just enjoying nature it is essential to not leave behind any litter. Introducing trash to an ecosystem can have devastating consequences like causing small animals to get stuck in jars or other containers, or birds to choke on plastic. Chemicals from plastic can also leach into water and disrupt animals’ hormones causing many issues including birth defects.
Leaving food waste behind can be troublesome because it has the potential to affect the food chain. If animals are getting food too easily they can lose their will to hunt for food, ending in starvation. They can also come to expect food from humans, which often ends tragically for animals such as bears, wolves, and coyotes. These types of animals can become aggressive when not given food they have come to expect or may come after livestock because they are more comfortable getting close to people. This causes people to fear for their lives or their animals lives so they kill these predators.
When you have any kind of waste, be sure to dispose of it properly. This can be done by planning ahead and having the right equipment. Bring bags for trash such as food packaging, hygiene products, or leftover cooking supplies. Dig small holes to deposit any human waste into and cover them when done, and do not bathe yourself or clean dishes close to any streams.
Leave Everything How You Found It
When you are in nature, you must not take anything that you find. When you take things from their natural habitat, it can take away an animal’s home or food. It takes away from nutrition for plants and tools for animals. Do not disturb the landscape in any way either, because that can have detrimental effects. This includes creating your own campground or trails or digging any kind of holes or trenches. Animals that are familiar with the area may get injured by stepping in a hole that wasn’t there before.
When visiting a new area, make sure you do not bring any non-native species to the environment. Introducing these species of plants or animals can cause devastation to local wildlife. This occurs by plants taking over and killing off native plants that are food sources for local animals. When these animals do not have the vegetation they need, they die off and leave the predators with no food source. The same thing can happen with animals. If a non-native animal is introduced to an ecosystem it can become a top predator with no natural enemies. A good example of this is the lionfish. It was introduced outside its ecosystem and has been causing the reefs to be destroyed because they have no local predators to control their population.
Fire is Helpful, But Help Control Your Fires
Whenever I think of camping, one of the first things I think of is a campfire. Roasting marshmallows, making s’mores, and cooking hotdogs are what I remember most from my childhood campfires. Fire can also be useful as a light source and heat source. Even though fires can be a very useful tool to your camping experience, you should use caution. Make sure your fires stay small and only burn wood that is collected on-site. Always use a contained site like fire rings or barrels. When you are finished with a fire, make sure it is entirely burned out to ash and spread the ashes to minimize the impact to local soil.
Leave No Trace
The best way to describe how to keep nature intact is the “Leave No Trace” principle. In addition to the advice above, be sure to check out the great resources at LNT.org to ensure that the ecosystems you visit stay exactly the same when you leave them.
Exploring our world is a fun and exciting hobby that millions of people enjoy every day. Doing these simple steps can help keep nature clean and fun for future generations. You can also help keep animal and plant populations up to counteract the growing extinction of so many species. Enjoy the outdoors carefully and Mother Nature, and future generations, will thank you.