Why Leaving No Trace Camping Is So Important

Why Leaving No Trace Camping Is So Important

We hear a lot about leaving no trace when we head out into the wilderness, whether it's a trip to a popular campsite or a trek on a back country adventure.  However, many people still don't appreciate the impact that their presence in nature areas can have on the local environment.  The principle of leaving no trace involves taking steps to ensure that we are not leaving anything behind when we move on, and this is key to keeping nature as natural and pristine as possible. 


More than Trash Collection

Leaving no trace involves more than cleaning up after yourself once you're ready to leave a particular site.  It also involves finding ways to minimally-disturb the area while we're there as well.  Camping involves clearing land, building fires, moving things around and creating an environment that is suitable for us.  However, our presence, as well the alterations we make, can leave a footprint that will be there long after we've gone. 


Animal Habitats

One of the biggest impacts that we have on nature is how our presence can disturb animal habitats.  When we think of habitats, we tend to think about large areas.  However, think about how disruptive we can be to animals who call the local area where we decide to camp their home.  This can interfere with their daily routines, cause them to relocate, and even end up altering their foraging patterns. 


If campsites are filled with people on a regular basis, animals learn to adapt to easy sources of food and water that humans provide instead of having to hunt on their own.  While this may seem like we're doing them a favor, the foods that we eat aren't exactly the healthiest for us or for our furry companions. 


Noise disturbances, lighting at night, the alteration of the landscape and trash left behind can all have a negative impact on the balance of nature in the area.  While it can be argued that we're being overly-sensitive, the reality is that we need to be sensitive to the needs of the permanent residents who will call that area home long after we're gone.


Minimal Footprint

The generally-accepted rule of thumb is to camp in ways that leave a minimal footprint once we're gone.  This simply means that traces of our presence are erased when we're gone, and the area remains as undisturbed and in as much of its original state as possible.  There are a lot of resources out there that help us to be more sensitive to the fragility of nature, as well as the impact that we can have on the local environment. 


The good news is that it doesn't take a lot of effort, just a little bit of planning and adaptation.  Make sure that you take your trash with you, and don't leave any food behind.  Make smaller fires, bring fewer accessories like chairs, tables and power supplies.  Consider using a camping hammock instead of setting up big tents. 


Learn more about what it really means to leave no trace so that you can keep nature as natural as possible, and apply some of these principles the next time you are camping or hiking.  The more we do now will go a long way to ensuring that our wilderness areas will be as untouched and intact for years to come.