Nature is beautiful, but also very fragile, so we all have to practice the “leave no trace” (LNT) principle to minimize the damage that we do to our environment whenever we travel the great outdoors.
Just imagine a three-hour uphill hike through a hot and humid jungle to get to a beautiful mountain summit. Tired from the hike, you decide to sit down and enjoy the beautiful mountain view. As you take off your backpack and prepare to sit, you notice three muddy cigarette butts near your left foot, a half-buried empty bag of chips beside the spot you’re sitting on, and several other pieces of trash all over the summit you’ve worked so hard to reach.
Would you enjoy that? Probably not. That’s why we shouldn’t be like the people who leave trash around like that in the first place. Let’s all practice the “leave no trace” principle when we’re out to enjoy nature.
Take nothing but pictures,-Unknown
Leave nothing but footprints,
Kill nothing but time.
What is “Leave no Trace”?
“Leave no trace” (LNT) is a common philosophy that most hikers and outdoors people practice, and it’s all about consciously and actively reducing the harm we do to the environment. Here’s some of the basic tips that you should follow whenever you hike or go out to enjoy nature in general.
- Take your trash with you. Plastics and other kinds of trash can contaminate the environment, and since it can take years for them to decay, the damage adds up. Take your trash back with you whenever you hike and don’t leave anything, not even a cigarette butt or a piece of food you dropped, in the mountain. Pick it up, put it in a plastic trash bag, and take it back with you. You can help even more if you pick up small pieces of old trash that you find while you hike!
- Stay on the established trails and campsites. Your footsteps can erode and damage the soil, as well as kill insects and rare plants.
- Avoid damaging the plants and things around the trail. Avoid breaking off branches, picking flowers and berries, and moving or displacing rocks and things while hiking. You might unknowingly damage rare and endangered plants in the area,
- Avoid disturbing or killing the wildlife. Unless you’re a licensed hunter, avoid capturing or killing animals and insects you meet on the trail unless absolutely necessary.
- Avoid urinating or defecating near water sources. Human waste can contaminate the water and soil, spread diseases, and harm local wildlife. Some hikers even place their waste in plastic containers and take those back with them to really minimize their impact on the ecosystem.
- Minimize the use of campfires. Aside from the risk of forest fires, they campfires also disturb wildlife both above ground (because of the smoke), and below ground (insects, worms, fungi, etc.). If you only need to cook, use portable stoves instead.
Those are the most known basics for now, but there are several others more detailed rules for more advanced hikers. They’re not absolute rules as you may need to disregard them, especially during life-or-death survival situations, but that’s a topic for another article. For now, remember those guidelines above whenever you hike or you go out to enjoy the great outdoors.
We’ll end our lesson here for now. Do you have any other questions? Just ask us on the comments section below!