Outdoor adventuring has increased in popularity in recent months. It is especially important to minimize your impact on the natural world while outdoors. Leave No Trace Canada outlines seven principles to follow on your outdoor adventure.
Be prepared for emergencies and extreme weather.
Be familiar with the regulations for the area you will be visiting.
Split large groups into smaller ones of 4-6 people.
Use areas during lower-traffic times.
Use a compass and map instead of marking your path with paint, flags, or rocks.
Pack your food so that your waste is minimal.
Camp and travel only on durable surfaces
Trails, campsites, snow, dry grasses, gravel and rock are examples of durable surfaces.
Camp at least 70 meters from bodies of water.
Do not alter campsites and keep them small. Walk single-file and stay off vegetation.
When camping or hiking in pristine areas, do not create new trails and campsites. Disperse your activity and avoid areas where damage is starting to occur.
Properly dispose of waste
Everything that comes with you needs to leave with you.
Wash dishes and yourself at least 70 meters from water sources using small amounts of biodegradable soap. Strain the dishwater and scatter it.
Bring all hygiene products, including toilet paper, home with you.
Leave everything as you find it
Do not take rocks, plants or other objects.
Look at but do not touch historic or cultural artifacts.
Do not build structures or dig trenches.
Do not introduce non-native species.
Minimize the impact of your fire
Do not make a fire if it is not necessary and if you do build a fire, make sure it is permitted in that area. Use established fire rings, mounds or a fire pan. Use only sticks from the ground for your fire and keep it small.
Burn the fire until only ash is left. Make sure it is completely out and scatter the ashes.
Use lightweight stoves to cook with and candle lanterns for light.
Respect the wildlife
Watch wildlife from a distance and do not approach them.
Store food and garbage in a secure location.
Do not let pets bother the wildlife.
Avoid wildlife when mating, raising young, nesting and during the winter.
Do not feed wildlife because it endangers their health and way of life.
Respect other visitors and be courteous.
Camp and take breaks away from other visitors.
Do not make a lot of noise.
Common disruptive habits to be aware of
You may think you are already doing your part in not disturbing the environment and may not be aware that some of your habits are harmful to the natural world.
Bathing and washing dishes in lakes and rivers
Even biodegradable soap impacts water sources. It needs micro-organisms in the soil to biodegrade. Use just plain water whenever possible and bathe and wash dishes at least 70 meters from lakes, rivers and streams.
Going off the trail in small groups
It might seem harmless, yet going off the trail causes erosion and destroys vegetation and organisms. It also creates new trails, which are then used by more people and are difficult to reclaim. Stay on trails or hike above the tree line on rocky areas.
Collecting wood in areas where it is scarce is hard on the ecosystem. There is a risk of a forest fire when making a fire and they may not be allowed where you are. Consider building a fire only in survival situations.
Even if there are many wildflowers, do not pick them (or take anything else) because they provide food and shelter for insects and animals.
Feeding wildlife can put you in danger, make them accustomed to or rely on human food, and in the case of bears, it will put them at risk for being euthanized.
Letting your friendly dog off-leash
Off-leash dogs can damage sensitive areas, disturb wildlife and other visitors, leave waste you will not see to pick up or bury, and bring angry animals back to you, putting you both at risk.
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