Why is Leave No Trace important?


Leave No Trace image


If you've ever been bushwalking, camping, or really done anything much in the outdoors, you've probably heard about Leave No Trace. It's sometimes known as minimal impact or zero impact hiking or camping, and the general idea is to reduce the environmental impact of whatever we're doing in the outdoors.


The seven principles of Leave No Trace are listed on their website as:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimise Campfire Impacts
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Your Hosts and Other Visitors

These ideas are now so common that they are essentially taken as truth; but there are some who dispute some aspects of this. Simon and Alagona, in their paper Beyond Leave No Trace, assert that, "...as a practical environmental ethic, Leave No Trace disguises much about human relationships with non-human nature." Furthermore, they note with some distaste that Leave No Trace has metamorphosed into "...both a corporate brand and an official stamp of approval. It appears emblazoned on water bottles and Frisbees, stitched into hats and t-shirts, and printed on the covers of guidebooks and how-to manuals."


But, while the initial proponents of the Leave No Trace idea perhaps would not have foreseen what it has become today; this philosophy of outdoor exploration has undoubtedly played a large part in protecting many endangered habitats and species, helping to preserve the bush as we know it today. There are still many environments around the world that are in danger from forces man-made or natural; but perhaps, with a united effort and diligence, we can help to stop these from disappearing.


Minimising your impact on the environment when you go bushwalking, canoeing, camping or otherwise doesn't have to be too difficult, and a little research goes a long way. Here's one resource from Leave No Trace Australia to give you some help for your next bushwalking trip.

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