In March 2020 as a result of COVID-19 the training programme of Leave No Trace Ireland was suspended. As a result many planned courses and education initiatives were delayed.
Today, over 60 core members particpated in the first of a series of online webinars. Members of Failte Ireland, Waterways Ireland, Inland Fisheries, and NPWS joined Advanced Trainer Ursula MacPherson for An Introduction to Leave No Trace – Ireland’s national countryside code for responsible outdoor recreation.
Outdoor recreation continues to play an important role in supporting the physical and mental well-being of society now more so than ever. As we begin to see the easing of the restrictions, Leave No Trace Ireland encourage people to enjoy the outdoors responsibly.
When venturing in the outdoors, humans generally impact the environment in six broad areas:
- Wildlife Impacts: disturbance, altered behavior, or reduced health and reproduction of animals.
- Vegetation Impacts: vegetation loss, the introduction of invasive species, and tree or plant damage
- Water Resource Impacts: siltation, sedimentation, and soap or fecal waste
- Soil Impacts: loss of organic litter, soil compaction, or soil erosion
- Cultural Resource Impacts through theft or damage to cultural and historic features and artifacts
- Social Impacts: crowding, conflicts between various user groups, and diminished outdoor experience
In recent times, the current COVID19 pandemic has only exacerbated this issue. Reports from RTE news have stated that during state lockdown, many people used the time to clean out and conduct maintenance on their homes.
- The Irish Times reported a 25% increase in illegal dumping in Dublin City during the pandemic.
- Unfortunately, this has led to a surge in the dumping of waste from some irresponsible homeowners.
- The growing concern over social distancing has seen an unprecedented increase in the use of disposable gloves and facemasks by the public.
Yet the goal of Leave No Trace is to change the relationship between use and impacts. Ideally, use could increase without the continued increase in impact due to everyone spending time outdoors putting Leave No Trace into action.
Leave No Trace provides the foundation and framework necessary for making good decisions for sustainable enjoyment of the outdoors now and well into the future.