“The old code of ‘take only photos and leave only footprints’ is now not enough” according to Bill Murphy, chairman of Leave No Trace Ireland, an exciting new outdoor ethics education programme launched today which promotes better use of outdoor places through education, research and partnerships. “All recreational users must strive to Leave No Trace, so that future generations can continue to enjoy the wonderful country we live in, which unfortunately is beginning to show signs of the increasing pressure from recreational use”, he added. Leave No Trace emphasises that caring for our mountains, forests, pastureland, lakes, rivers and seashore is the right thing to do â€“ the ethical approach â€“ and trains and educates users through a variety of means in ways in which they can enjoy their access to the countryside, but minimise their impact.
A number of different organisations, on an all-Ireland basis, representing a range of interests including large land-owners, youth organisations, and national bodies for adventure sports have joined together to form Leave No Trace Ireland. So far from the North, the Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN), and the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme have come on board. In the South, membership includes Coillte, The Forest Service, The Heritage Council, Mountain Biking Ireland, Mountain Meitheal, The Mountaineering Council of Ireland, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Scouting Ireland. “We are hoping that many more organisations from all over Ireland will join and help to promote and practice the Leave No Trace message” commented Jane Helps, programme Co-ordinator, who welcomed the fact that the Leave No Trace principles were being adopted by Comhairle na Tuaithe in the National Countryside Recreation Strategy to be launched this Thursday.
As pressure on our landscapes and seascapes from recreational use continues to increase, it is appropriate that a single national message is put in place which will ensure that visitors to the Irish countryside, whether locals or tourists, visit with care. Litter, water pollution, fire damage, disturbance of wildlife and livestock and increasing annoyance to other people are all indicators of this need. Techniques designed to minimise the social and environmental impacts to these areas are incorporated into the Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics Education Programme.
Leave No Trace Ireland will be launched by Duncan Stewart, environmentalist and television presenter on 27th September at 6pm at the Scouting Ireland headquarters in Larch Hill, Dublin 16.