Is it OK to throw cherry stones into the Adriatic when hiking along the Croatian coast? Or an apple core behind a bush in the Pyrennees? It’s all natural, right? Wrong. Unless you picked the apple from a tree where you are walking, or unless cherries grow among the coral, they don’t belong there, so if in doubt, take it out. Such is the message of worldwide organisation, Leave No Trace, which is the font of all knowledge and training when it comes to environmental protection and outdoor activities. It all seems like common sense and, in general, walkers love the environment and are extremely protective of it. However, this doesn’t explain the wasters who leave things behind like disposable barbeques, cigarette butts, banana skins, chewing gum, drinks bottles and even pop up tents. Leave no trace also means leaving nature as you find it, so don’t pick wildflowers please. A hard one to teach children, but just part of the big picture of protecting the few wild places we have left in the world.
What you can do
You can read more on the Leave No Trace
website. Most is common sense, but here are some tips which are less obvious to most people but very important when it comes to lessening your impact.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Deposit solid human waste 15-20cm deep, at least 60 metres from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the hole when finished.
- When washing dishes, or yourself, carry water 60 metres away from streams or lakes and use biodegradable soap.
- Respect all rules about fires. Most national parks do not allow them, for example. But in wilder areas, construct only small ones within a carefully constructed fire ring. Use only small sticks and put them out completely, scattering the cool ashes. Leave no trace applies to fires too.