Rural Recreation Officers Learn to Leave No Trace

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Una Donoghue, a Master Educator of Leave No Trace, delivered a Leave No Trace Trainer Course to 7 Rural Recreation Officers on 9th – 10th October at Petersburg Outdoor Education Centre in Galway.

The trainer’s course was initiated by Inga Bock who works as a Rural Recreation Officer from Donegall. Including Inga, a group of 7 Rural Recreation Officers from counties based all over Ireland gathered together to take part in this course which focused on the 7 principles of Leave No Trace and the practical side of conservation.

On the first day, which was made that bit easier due to sunshine and dry weather, the group took a look at a variety of different rural recreation areas to see just how much of an impact people have on any particular area. These areas provide a variety of services to the public including viewpoints, picnic areas and a range of outdoor activities. From looking at these areas there were many examples of how the techniques relating to the following principles – being considerate to others and disposing of waste properly – were non existent. Plenty of discussion took place on prevention methods including trying to stop the creation of multiple paths as this was considered as a huge impact in these areas.

With stunning views of the Joyce Country landscape it is easy to see why visitors travel to this area and spend time hill walking, cycling, fishing, camping and generally relaxing and therefore it is the care and maintenance of these places which is so important. During the course the group were amazed to find that there were very little methods in place to help visitors look after these areas, for example, most areas did not give have any facilities for people to dispose of their rubbish, disposable BBQ’s and toilet waste.

The group then made their way to their camping site which the participants consciously made sure they left in a much better condition than when they arrived.

After this the amazing backdrop of Lough NaFooey beach provided a great location to let the group practice making a mound fire.

“Most people on the course were familiar with plenty of methods of Leave No Trace already which was very motivating. I thought this course provided an excellent platform for people who work in similar environments to meet up with each other in a way that can be of benefit to themselves too. We were not alone during the night and the next morning we could see traces of what may have been a badger trail. In the morning after we dismantled our campsite we took a look at the woods to try identify a number of different insects and wildlife which then led to us finishing up and heading back to Petersburg OEC for a quick debrief and a few ideas as to how we can use Leave No Trace to help with any rural recreation activities that the group may organise in the future” commented Una.

Una would like to thank those who did the course for a great time and to Petersburg Outdoor Education Centre for use of their facilities.

Leave No Trace would like to welcome 7 new Trainers: Inga Bock, Deirdre Kennedy, Eimer McCarthy, Ann Lanigan, Una Doris, Pat Mellon and Cyril Killeen.