Background on the Principles of Leave No Trace

Our Natural World

Often, before people can decide to leave no trace in the backcountry, they must feel a personal connection to the land; they need a reason to care. Caring can take many forms: a love of beauty, an enjoyment of wild plants and animals, an interest in learning about the natural world, a feeling of oneness with nature, a desire for fun and leisure, the excitement of discovery, or even a need to be challenged. All these examples help illustrate how we are a part of the web of life that surrounds us.

An understanding of how the natural world functions—and our ability to change this world—raises many considerations about Leave No Trace. Before teaching Leave No Trace, leaders are encouraged to help people make a personal connection with the natural world. Simultaneously, as the individual nurtures this connection, a commitment to protecting the natural world also takes shape. This section helps set the stage for promoting Leave No Trace and reminds us that humans are part of the natural world.

An In-Depth Look at the Need for Leave No Trace

Get acquainted with the seven principles of Leave No Trace. It's essential to feel comfortable and knowledgeable before getting started. Begin by thoroughly reading this section before proceeding with the activities. Then, review the appropriate information before conducting a specific activity.

The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces 
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly (Pack It In, Pack It Out)
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Teaching Leave No Trace