We know that any camper with a little common sense will stick to the rules of Leave No Trace Camping by himself, as these are just the basics of respecting nature and the outdoors. Nevertheless, we would like to draw your attention to these principles, because we find it very important for vanlifers – and campers in general – to adhere to these rules to have a minimal impact on the environment.
Leave No Trace is an increasingly popular and necessary approach to travel in wilderness areas. It is a set of outdoor ethics that began in 1960’s and 1970’s. In this period there was a large increase in people visiting the wilderness, resulting in the invention of new outdoor equipment such as portable gas stoves, synthetic tents, mattresses and so on. This, in turn, had the effect of even more visitors to national parks and outdoor areas. Therefore different groups and services tried to educate the wilderness visitors to have a minimal impact on nature. In this way the Leave No Trace Ethics were created.
The original principles are:
- Know before your go
- Stick to trails and camp overnight right
- Stash your trash and pick up waste
- Leave it as you find it
- Be careful with fire
- Keep wildlife wild
- Share our trails and manage your pet
These principles have been adapted to different activities, ecosystems and environments.
- ‘Know before you go’ or ‘Plan ahead and prepare’ When you don’t prepare your travels, you’ll have to come up with whatever solution you find in unexpected situations. A lot of those last minute solutions can have a high impact on the environment. So be prepared for any unexpected situation you can imagine.
- ‘Stick to trails and camp overnight right’ or ‘Travel and camp on durable surfaces’ Think about where you put your camper or tent. Try to have as little impact as possible on the soil and don’t crush vegetation and communities of organisms. This is not only important for the environment but also for yourself: You don’t want to get stuck in muddy surfaces.
- ‘Stash your trash and pick up waste’ or ‘Dispose of waste properly’ Never ever leave trash, nor burn it! If there’s a trash bin nearby, throw your waste in the bin. If not, take it with you. The simplest fundamental rule is: Pack it in, pack it out.. Everything you could take with you there, you can also take back home. Trash and litter in the environment doesn’t only spoil the view, it can also cause damage to plants and animals in the environment.
- ‘Leave it as you find it’ or ‘ Leave what you find’ Minimize your adjustments to the site and do not cause (irreversible) damage to the environment, such as hitting nails in trees, breaking off branches, digging and removing natural elements.
- ‘Be careful with fire’ or ‘Minimize campfire impacts’ Many areas have been affected by the overuse of fires and they can also be very dangerous. In worst case scenarios a fire can become uncontrollable and spread. Consequences of uncontrollable fires could be most unfortunate. Try to avoid bare campfires and look for alternatives, such as a LED lantern and a cozy blanket.
- ‘Keep wildlife wild’ or ‘Respect wildlife’ Don’t disturb the wildlife and don’t try to touch or catch animals. Leave them alone, respect their environment and minimize your impact on ecosystems.
- ‘Share our trails and manage your pet’ or Be considerate of other visitors’ Respect other outdoor visitors. Following hiking etiquette, keep calm and quiet and let other people enjoy the outdoors.
So go out there and explore but remember: Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints.