Press Release: Leave No Trace Ireland launch a revised 7 Principles Code for Responsible and Ethical use of the Outdoors 

Press Release

Leave No Trace Ireland launch a revised 7 Principles Code for Responsible and Ethical use of the Outdoors 

Stakeholder consultation results in stronger guidance on land access, camping, outdoor fires, and dog control.  

Thursday, 7th March 2024 -Leave No Trace Ireland, Ireland’s only outdoor ethics programme, has launched a revision of its 7 Principles for the Responsible and Ethical Use of the Outdoors 

The revised principles focus on providing greater clarity and focused advice on travelling, seeking permission when accessing land and camping, and how to protect nature from the effects of fires. 

The Leave No Trace ‘7 Principles’ have served as a cornerstone for promoting minimum impact practices for outdoor enthusiasts in their use and enjoyment of the countryside and recreational spaces. The ‘7 Principles” underpin the core aim of Leave No Trace Ireland which is to ensure that the beauty and integrity of our natural spaces are preserved for future generations, while urging the public to use and enjoy outdoor spaces (including parks, open countryside, and beaches) with the care and respect needed to protect wildlife, fragile natural ecosystems, and biodiversity.   

In response to extensive stakeholder engagement and the evolving landscape for outdoor recreation, Leave No Trace Ireland set about a thorough review of the ‘7 Principles’ to assess each principle’s current relevance and effectiveness and to identify implementation gaps at various levels. 

This review highlighted the necessity for updates regarding the wording of two of the Principles, namely, ‘Travel and Camp on Durable Ground’ and ‘Minimise the Effects of Fire’. The revised principles now emphasise how camping and access are always dependent on the goodwill of the landowner concerned and that a landowner’s permission should always be sought before camping.  

Regarding lighting any outdoor fire or campfire, the Leave No Trace Ireland revised principles warn that in nearly all circumstances, fires should not be lit without permission. The revised principle emphasises the hugely damaging and costly effects of irresponsible use of fires and campfires in the countryside, or in any recreational space.  

In a further general update to its advice, Leave No Trace Ireland emphasises that permission should be sought to bring dogs onto land and that dogs must always be on a lead in open and recreational spaces, particularly in the countryside and on or near farmland.  

Dr Noel Doyle, Project Coordinator/Researcher, said the revision of the Leave No Trace Ireland ‘7 Principles’ sought to address feedback about its existing messaging being too narrow in its focus, and the desire for a more inclusive and collaborative approach with relevant stakeholders. 

Commenting, he said: “In revising our core Principles on Responsible Travel and Camping, the Protection of Nature from Fires, and re-emphasising our advice on responsible dog control, we are acting on feedback from a wide-ranging consultative and stakeholder engagement process that told us that, in their current form, some of the Principles do not reflect the current realities around outdoor recreation and the need to promote responsible outdoor recreation.” 

“This revision process underscores a major effort to foster greater collaboration and engagement with all stakeholders involved. Specific items were identified for revision, emphasising access to recreational and private land, the restricted and responsible use of fires in very limited circumstances, and the management and control of dogs in the outdoors.”  

Maura Kiely, CEO of Leave No Trace Ireland, said that the process of collaboration and engagement with stakeholders, including state agencies, local authorities, government departments, recreational, tourism and farming interest bodies, was hugely important in updating the core Leave No Trace Ireland Principles.  

She said: “The ‘7 Principles’ are the guidance and educational foundation upon which responsible recreation has been promoted in Ireland. However, we need to ensure that the Principles are kept under review to reflect changes in recreational activity, the increased vulnerability of the natural environment, and developments such as the exponential increase in dog ownership that has taken place.” 

“We will now embark on the equally important work to effectively communicate these important updates to the public and our partners. This will include significant changes to our website and digital resources, and exploring new collaboration opportunities with partners to enrich content related to land access, dog management outdoors, camping ethics, and fire safety.” 

Notes to Editors: 

Leave No Trace Ireland is Ireland’s only outdoor ethics programme, which promotes the responsible use of the outdoors. Through education, research and partnerships, Leave No Trace Ireland enables and supports individuals, communities, organisations and companies in reducing the environmental impact of outdoor activities. 

The 7 Principles are: 

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare 
  1. Be Considerate of Others 
  1. Respect Farm Animals and Wildlife 
  1. Travel and Camp Responsibly 
  1. Leave What You Find 
  1. Dispose of Waste Properly 
  1. Protect Nature from Fire 

Practising a Leave No trace ethic is very simple: Make it hard for others to see or hear you and LEAVE NO TRACE of your visit.