History of Leave No Trace Ireland

Comhairle na Tuaithe, the Countryside Council, was set up in February 2004 to look at the following issues:

Access to the countryside

Developing a countryside code

Developing a countryside recreation strategy

Comhairle na Tuaithe identified and agreed a set of operational rules for access to the countryside to help prevent conflict and serve a variety of needs and responsibilities. In 2006 it was decided that the use of the internationally recognised Leave No Trace initiative was the best method to develop the features necessary for a countryside code in Ireland.

In September 2008, ‘Leave No Trace Ireland’ was officially launched in Ireland. Today, the offices are based in Westport, Co. Mayo.


Originating in the USA with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, there are now four franchises including Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Globally the programme is delivered in over 90 countries.

Over 90% of recreation takes place in areas that are easy to access and mostly visited by day-users. Although Leave No Trace has its roots in the countryside, the Principles have been adapted so that they are relevant and can be applied anywhere, from remote areas to your own neighbourhood. This includes parks, urban areas, nature reserves, lakeshores, riverbanks and coastal areas.

Aspects of the Leave No Trace Principles can be applied to every recreational activity.


9 out of 10 people who visit the outdoors are not informed about Leave No Trace and minimising their impacts. Leave No Trace training is helping to instil an outdoor ethic in all those who enjoy spending time outside.

Increased recreation and activity in nature and the outdoors adds pressure, not only for nature and wildlife but also to landowners and custodians of the land. An increase in human impact can result in new or tighter regulations being imposed, or in some cases, conflicts between recreational users and those charged to manage or work the land. A widespread awareness of Leave No Trace will go a long way in protecting these outdoor spaces and maintaining goodwill towards visitors and those enjoying the outdoors for recreation.

Some negative impacts…

Evidence Based Programme

Leave No Trace Ireland co-ordinates a continuous stream of research, to provide relevant and up-to-date social and environmental knowledge to underpin the Leave No Trace message in Ireland. Leave No Trace Ireland currently have Ph.D. and Master research programmes. For further information on Leave No Trace Ireland research follow the link below.


To find out more about the international research conducted by The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics please visit https://lnt.org/research-resources/


When spending time outdoors, human impacts on the environment generally fit into the following seven areas:

Hover over each image below to learn more (if you are on mobile tap on the images).

Wildlife Impacts

Disturbance, altered behaviour, intentional or inadvertent feeding, or reduced health and reproduction of animals.

Soil Impacts

Soil compaction, damage, and loss of living biological soil crust, soil erosion near trails, siltation and increased drainage into water courses.

Vegetation Impacts

Vegetation loss, the introduction of invasive species, and tree or plant damage.

Cultural Impacts

Congestion at sites, theft or damage to cultural and historic features and artefacts. Creation of artificial structures e.g., cairns, names carved in trees etc.

Campfire Impacts

Damage, burned rubbish and food, depleted areas of micro nutrients from dead and downed wood, increased scavenging, improper disposal of ashes, promotion of areas for increased fire usage and wildfires.

Water Impacts

Siltation, sedimentation pollution, eutrophication, algal blooms and biodiversity loss.


Over 80% of the land is privately owned in Ireland. Access to natural resources for outdoor recreation is entirely at the owner's discretion. Always seek permission from the landowner.


When spending time in the outdoors, the Leave No Trace Seven Principles provide a framework of minimum impact practices. Each principle covers a specific topic and provides detailed information for minimising impact. These Principles are well established and grounded in research.

Principle #1: Plan Ahead and Prepare

Principle #2: Be Considerate of Others

Principle #3: Respect farm animals and Wildlife

Principle #4: Travel and Camp on Durable Ground

Principle #5: Leave What You Find

Principle #6: Dispose of Waste Properly

Principle #7: Minimise the effects of fire


We use training and education to support the Leave No Trace mission and ensure that all outdoor enthusiasts have the skills to leave places as good, or better, than they found them. By using education instead of regulation, we can help protect the outdoors without impeding on the enjoyment or freedom of our fellow outdoor enthusiasts.

Community Programmes

Leave No Trace Ireland engages with communities to achieve greater scale and impact across Ireland. Memberships are free for community groups and create awareness about the importance of responsible outdoor recreation in the Irish countryside, enhancing and protecting local biodiversity.

Special Award National Tidy Towns Competition

Leave No Trace sponsor a Special Category Award in the National Tidy Towns competition which is open to all Tidy Towns Groups throughout Ireland. The award recognises communities for their significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment and the promotion of responsibility in the outdoors. Through recognising these communities, Leave No Trace Ireland seeks to inspire other communities to take extraordinary actions to protect and promote responsible outdoor recreation.

Schools Programmes

To meet the needs of educators working with our youth, Leave No Trace Ireland, in collaboration with the Department of Community and Rural Development created an outdoor ethics curriculum specifically for young audiences.

Corporate Volunteering

Leave No Trace Ireland welcome corporate involvement from organisations who wish to aspire to our Principles of environmental protection with our organisation, whether that be a once-off general donation or longer-term commitment.


You can get involved with Leave No Trace in a number of ways!

  • Adopt the Principles: Start to incorporate some of the practices you have learned on this course when out and about in the countryside.
  • Share the message: Join our strong, active, and engaged social media community by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Support:  By becoming a member of Leave No Trace Ireland, you are not only supporting the Leave No Trace programme but are actively contributing to the protection of Ireland’s shared outdoor spaces.
  • For more info: https://www.leavenotraceireland.org/membership-account/membership-levels/


Now that you’ve learned about the foundations of Leave No Trace, you are ready to make a difference. From your back garden to the great outdoors, will you pledge to be part of the solution to protect the environment?

Check all the ways that you will commit to the Leave No Trace movement:

I promise while I am outdoors in Ireland I will:

Are you sure you don’t want to commit to all of these?

Thank you for your commitment!


You are ready to responsibly enjoy the outdoors. Click the button to complete our quiz and receive your certificate via email.

Proceed to Introduction to Leave No Trace Course Quiz