The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace are recommended as a guide to all recreational walkers to minimise the impact of our visits to the natural and cultural heritage areas of Australia.

If a single recreational walker can have such a long-term impact then why do these principles not apply to everyone who enters Our Wilderness?

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

Prevention by obtaining knowledge ahead of time is often an easier solution. We need to be aware of the impact we are all having on our wilderness and act accordingly NOW in order to protect it for the future. The objectives of sustainable forest management include to protect biological diversity and maintain the ecological characteristics of native flora and fauna. Despite these requirements, logging is known to be causing the decline of key threatened species.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

What effect does a footstep have? A single footstep causes vegetation damage and soil erosion in virtually every environment. Recovery that takes a year in some environments might take 25 years in others. If this is the case, what impact do all recreational activities, adventure tourism, commercialisation and extractive industries have?

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

Any user of recreation public land has a responsibility to clean up before he or she leaves. “Pack it in, pack it out” is a common mantra. Next time you venture into the wilderness take careful note of the traces, rubbish and damage that is left behind by recreation, adventure tourism, commercialisation and extractive industries.

4. Leave What You Find

People visit natural areas for many reasons, among them to explore nature’s mysteries and surprises. It’s the missing elements of our favourite places that disturb us the most. When we leave rocks, shells, plants, feathers, fossils, artefacts and other objects of interest as we find them, we pass the gift of discovery on to those who follow.

5. Minimize Campfire Impact

Along with the destructive nature of fire, the natural appearance of many recreation areas has been compromised by the careless use of campfires and the demand for firewood. Surrounding areas have been stripped of their natural beauty as every scrap of dry wood has been torched. If campfires have such an impact, just imagine the impact that fire bombing by extractive industries has.

6. Respect Wildlife

Unfortunately, wildlife around the world faces threats from loss and fragmentation of habitat, invasive species, pollution, over-exploitation, poaching and disease. Consequently, wild animals and marine life need recreators who will promote their survival rather than add to the difficulties they already face.

7. Be Considerate of Your Hosts and Other Visitors

Today, we must consider the rights of traditional land owners as well as share the wilderness with people of all recreational persuasions. There is simply not enough country for every category of enthusiast to have exclusive use of land, wilderness, trails, bush, lakes, rivers, and campgrounds. Yet the subject of outdoor “etiquette” is often neglected. We’re reluctant to examine our personal behaviours, least of all in the wilderness where, to many, a sense of freedom is paramount.