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7 Leave No Trace Principles to Follow for Your Outdoor Adventures

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It’s no secret that we love to play outside. Through this love, and as the years progress, we also see the impact we have on our playgrounds. A first step to remedy this problem is to respect the principles of leaving no trace in order to keep our green spaces as intact as possible.

We, therefore, share with you the 7 Leave No Trace principles to practice during your outdoor adventures!

Photo by Alexandra Racine

Planning & Preparation

Getting ready doesn’t just mean packing for the weather! It also means preparing a first aid kit according to the activity, preventing waste management by planning meals and learning about the natural environment. This kind of planning will help you minimize the risk of temperature-related illnesses (heatstroke, hypothermia), be prepared in case of injury, lighten your pack with good meal planning, but above all: enjoy your adventure to its fullest potential. It will also help you find the ideal route according to your objectives, but also limit your impact on the terrain.

Photo by Antoine Caron Cabana

Choose Durable Surfaces

This principle is crucial for when you select your campsite! We should prioritize a designated camping spot or one that has already been established, a rocky surface or snow. An important note for camping on snow, there should be 15 centimetres of snow covering the shrubs in order for it to be considered a durable surface. For wild camping, it is preferable to change location often and to avoid installing tents too close to others as we want to avoid marking the area in a way that it becomes an established site. Choosing durable surfaces also means staying on the trail when hiking, even if the trail is wet. On a bike, we want to avoid braking techniques that create (or enlarge) holes/ruts.

Photo by Yan Kaczynski

Dispose Waste Properly

We are talking about everything: organic matter, feces, waste, hazardous materials, ashes, cleaners, etc. For moments when nature calls in the wild, we want to prioritize the existing toilets, but in case you are deep in the wilderness, we must dig a hole at least 20 centimetres deep, which is at least 60 meters from all bodies of water and the camp. You can also throw your dishwater in this same hole, being mindful to first pass the water through a sieve to collect any large chunks and dispose of them in your waste bag. Speaking of dishes, we prioritize biodegradable, odourless soap. Apple cores (and other food that we say to ourselves “oh it’s organic, it’s good for the earth”), it goes in your garbage bag and not in nature! The prevention part is especially useful when selecting food and eliminating the waste you need to bring back by choosing to bring reusable containers.

Photo by Yan Kaczynski

Leave it How You Found it

This means not picking the beautiful trailside flowers or hauling dead wood from place to place. The wood could have pests that will contaminate the next site! It is for this same reason that we prefer to buy wood directly from the place where we camp rather than bringing it from home. We also ideally want to brush our walking shoes and bicycle tires after an outing to control the spread of invasive species (similar to lakes!)

Photo by Yan Kaczynski

Minimize the Impact of Fires

First of all, we want to validate if fires are allowed depending on the location and the time of year to avoid causing a forest fire. If they are allowed, we want to ask ourselves if it is really necessary to make a fire, considering the ecological footprint of using a burner, for example, is less than that of a fire. If our final choice still includes a fire, we will use the wood available and monitor the fire continuously. Once the fire is over and cooled, if there is no specific place to dispose of the ashes (in the wild for example), we want to spread them in the vegetation so that it acts as a fertilizer. However, be careful not to spill them into waterways!

Photo by Yan Kaczynski

Respect the Wildlife

There is a very simple rule that you can use here: the rule of thumb! Just stretch your arm and hold your thumb up: if you can see the animal, you are too close! If you can completely cover it, you’re an adequate distance away! In the event of an encounter with a wild animal, we want to move away quietly so as to disturb it as little as possible. We also want to place our camp properly to limit odours, i.e. put everything that smells (including soap and toothpaste) in a container that seals in odours or in a location that is out of reach for animals.

Photo by Alexandra Racine

Respect the Other Visitors

We know that among Chèvres, we like to talk (sometimes loudly)! We can have fun but we also want to limit loud noise to respect other visitors who often come outdoors for peace. It is also good practice to offer help to others in an emergency. We also want to respect the rules of courtesy and signal our presence when crossing a narrow path.

In the end, the important thing is to protect the places we love to practice our favourite sports for as long as possible. To learn more about the Leave No Trace principles, you can consult the De Ville en forêt website, professionals whose mission is to mitigate the impacts of outdoor activities and events.

See you outside Les Chèvres!

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