The importance of leaving no trace
From protecting wildlife, to preventing wildfires - Leave No Trace education and training is more important today than ever.
If you’ve taken part in a Classic, or another outdoors event organised by Fjällräven, then you’ve probably heard a lot about the importance of leaving basecamp in better shape than you found it. It’s something we believe in very strongly so we’ve worked alongside the Leave No Trace Centre for Outdoor Ethics for many years, consulting them on our USA-based events to ensure that we do the best by the environment that we can.
What is Leave No Trace Centre for Outdoor Ethics?
In short Leave No Trace aims to educate people on how to enjoy the outdoors while leaving less of an impact. Leave No Trace Centre for Outdoor Ethics are headquartered in the ‘outdoor’ state of Colorado and on the doorstep of some of the most beautiful wildlife that the USA has to offer and were the recipient of the Arctic Fox Initiative grant for 2019. They work with 7 easy-to-follow principles to further their goal through education and trainings for anyone who wants to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. But what are the challenges that the training is aiming to overcome?
What is the problem that Leave No Trace helps to solve?
In a world where destructive wildfires burn uncontrollably, for example across Australia throughout the first few months of 2020, or where we have forecasts claiming that by 2050 we will have more plastic than fish in the ocean by weight - the responsibility we each have is only growing. As Dean Ronzoni, Director of Corporate Development at Leave No Trace, says “We are in a crisis that's only getting worse. Nine out of ten people have experienced some misinformation about how to behave when they're in the outdoors.” And that is what Leave No Trace is trying to solve through providing compelling content that helps people understand the importance of behaving considerately in nature.
We are in a crisis that's only getting worse. Nine out of ten people have experienced some misinformation about how to behave when they're in the outdoors
Director of Corporate Development at Leave No Trace
On the Leave No Trace website and blog, you can read in detail about all the issues that they are tackling on a daily basis. To summarise, the following are outlined as critical areas that are making Leave No Trace education and training more important than ever: trashed natural areas, polluted water, misinformation in the outdoors, destructive fires, connecting youth to nature and crowded parks.
Dean told us a little bit about some of the challenges that inspired his personal involvement with the organisation. “In 2017, Colorado Parks and Wildlife had to euthanise 168 bears and relocate another 107 additional bears. The problem is that bears become habituated to humans via food conditioning which puts both the bears and humans at risk.” The 7 principles aim to deal with problems exactly like these. One of the principles teaches people about keeping proper distances to wildlife and the issues of storing and disposing of food and waste properly. But it’s not just about interaction with wildlife, the 7 principles deal with a large range of behaviours that can protect wild spaces - from proper campfire safety to being considerate to other visitors.
Why 7 principles?
Although the realities of working with people to adapt behaviour in outdoor spaces can be complicated, especially across different cultures, environments and eco-systems, breaking the solution into 7 simple principles is a way to unite people towards a common and uncomplicated goal. The movement was founded in the United States but has now spread globally with people working in 90 different countries to educate their communities about treating nature respectfully. As Susy Alkaitis, the Deputy Director of Leave No Trace, says “as more people are getting outside the management and education around how people engage in outdoor spaces has changed and needs to continue to change. We're all having to speak some sort of common language about the environment and that's the beautiful thing.”
What can we do?
The most important thing that we need to do is to educate ourselves about enjoying nature in a responsible way. We all want to preserve nature for the next generation. Leave No Trace aims to meet people where they are, visiting schools, festivals, universities or workplaces and it’s also very much available online - their trainings and education are really for everyone. That includes the team at Fjällräven as there is never a time to stop informing ourselves better about reducing our impact on nature. For example, Leave No Trace consults yearly with us on the Fjällräven Classic USA - so that we always have the best procedures and tools to leave nothing but footprints behind. In fact, working together in the past has meant that we have been able to tackle the negative effects that could be associated with ‘insta-tourism’ in areas of natural beauty. To read more about how Leave No Trace informs our events click here.
The Arctic Fox Initiative
It’s not just through consulting on Fjällräven events in the USA that we’ve partnered with Leave No Trace - we have also supported their efforts via the Arctic Fox Initiative grant that they received last year. Due to those funds, Leave No Trace have been able to increase their efforts to educate even more people on the 7 principles and spread knowledge more widely in the community.
We, at Fjällräven, love the work of Leave No Trace and it is great to be able to support an organisation, and a group of truly passionate people, who similarly believe that being conscious, treading carefully and leaving nature in a better condition than the way we found it is crucial when spending time outdoors.