Leave No Trace
The National Trails Office / Irish Sports Council encourages all trail users to apply the Leave No Trace ethic when walking, hiking or biking in the Irish outdoors
"Pack it In - Pack it Out"
The 7 basic principles of the Leave No Trace ethics offer a guide to all trail users:
Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Before you head off on a trail check that the trail is suitable for your group
- Print off or purshase a copy of a trail map
- Ensure that you have all the necessary information you may need for your activity
- If you intend taking your dog with you, check locally to see if dogs are permitted on your intended trail
- Plan for a safe and enjoyable excursion by taking the usual safety precautions.
- Ensure you have all the necessary clothing, food and equipment needed for your activity.
- Check the weather forecast and always be prepared for changing weather conditions.
- Where possible travel by public transport or share cars; consider the availability of parking
- Respect any signs, regulations, policies and special concerns for the area that you wish to visit. .
- For environmental and safety reasons, and to minimise your impact on other users, keep group numbers small; split larger parties into smaller groups
Be Considerate of Other
- Respect all people who live and work in the countryside.
- Park appropriately - avoid blocking gateways, forest entrances or narrow roads. Remember that farm machinery, local residents and the emergency services may need access at all times.
- Take care not to damage property, especially walls, fences and crops.
- Respect other visitors and trail users and protect the quality of their experience.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Keep noise to a minimum.
Respect Farm Animals and Wildlife
- Dogs should be kept under close control and should only be brought onto hills or farmland with the landowner's permission. Some trails do not permit dogs and other areas stipulate that dogs must be kept on a lead at all times. Please adhere to local trail requirements !
- Observe wild animals and birds from a distance. Avoid disturbing them, particularly at sensitive times: mating, nesting and raising young (mostly between spring and early summer).
- Keep wildlife wild, don't feed wild animals or birds - our foods damage their health and leave them vulnerable to predators.
- Farm animals are not pets; remain at a safe distance.
Travel and Camp on Durable Ground
Durable ground includes established tracks and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing tracks and campsites.
- To avoid further erosion, travel in single file in the middle of the track even when wet or muddy
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of new tracks and campsites.
- Only camp on designated camp sites along trails
- Seek permission from local landowners if you wish to "wild camp"
- Protect water quality by camping at least 30m from lakes and streams.
- Keep campsites small and discreet.
- Aim to leave your campsite as you found it, or better.
Leave What You Find
- Respect property. For example, farming or forestry machinery, fences, stone walls etc.
- Leave gates as you find them (open or closed).
- Preserve the past: examine - without damaging - archaeological structures, old walls and heritage artefacts e.g. holy wells, mine workings, monuments.
- Conserve the present: leave rocks, flowers, plants, animals and all natural habitats as you find them. Fallen trees are a valuable wildlife habitat; do not remove or use for firewood.
- Avoid introducing non-native plants and animals e.g. zebra mussels in rivers and lakes.
- Do not build rock cairns, structures or shelters
Dispose of Waste Properly
- "If You Bring It In, Take It Out" - take home all litter and leftover food (including tea bags, fruit peels and other biodegradable foods).
- To dispose of solid human waste, dig a hole 15-20cms deep and at least 30m from water, campsites and tracks. Cover and disguise the hole when finished.
- Bring home toilet paper and hygiene products.
- Wash yourself or your dishes 30m away from streams or lakes and if necessary use small amounts of biodegradable soap.
- Bring home any solids and scatter strained dishwater.
For more information on sanitation in the outdoors read the "Where to go in the outdoors" leaflet
Minimise the Effects of Fire
- Fires can cause lasting impacts and be devastating to forests, natural habitats and farmland. Therefore when camping use a lightweight stove for cooking.
- Where fires are permitted: Use established fire rings, barbecues or create a mound fire.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand. Do not use growing vegetation for use as firewood.
- Avoid burning plastics or other substances: which emit toxic fumes.
- Burn all fires to ash, put out fires completely, and then scatter cool ashes.
For further details on Leave No Trace and outdoor ethics, go to www.leavenotraceireland.org