As we head into the weekend, though ‘weekend’ activities are becoming less defined, Leave No Trace Ireland have published a set of simple guidelines for getting outdoors responsibly and safely amid the Covid-19 crisis. Increasing numbers of people are seeking the natural benefits of getting outdoors, taking in fresh air, letting off pent up energy and enjoying our Island’s incredible nature during this difficult and uncertain time. Now, more than ever, it is vitally important that collectively, we use the outdoors responsibly, taking care of each other and taking care of our local environs, our magnificent wildlife, our lands and waters. As seen in the media, overcrowding at popular outdoor beauty spots, lack of social distancing, increased disturbance of wildlife and vegetation, rubbish left behind, are all indicators that outdoor use is up but we are not caring for our outdoor spaces as we should be. Following Leave No Trace Guidelines ensures we are being collectively responsible in our use of outdoor spaces, protecting ourselves, our families, our fellow citizens and our incredible island. The outdoors is our escape, somewhere to step away from the news cycle and gain some sense of normality. We need to pull together now and protect our nature, our wildlife, our local spaces so that we continue to have somewhere beautiful, natural and available to all the people to enjoy.
Plan Ahead – Check weather, bring proper clothing and footwear, water and food. Park and walk responsibly.
Expect Closures – Before leaving home, consider lack of usual facilities such as toilets, shops, cafes, restaurants.
Stay Home or Local – Unwell? Don’t go! Feeling well? Look for local trails, hidden gems, explore closer to home.
Be Considerate: Maintain social distancing throughout the day. Keep group sizes small. There is plenty of space in the outdoors for everyone!
Time and Place: Find those hidden gems, avoid peak times, avoid difficult routes. Adhere to HSE guidelines.
Leave No Trace: Don’t rely on or add to already overburdened services. Bring your own rubbish home.
Be Dog Responsible: Keep dogs under control. Mind out for young wildlife. Pick up and bring home dog waste.
Don’t Forget the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace: Remember, prepare for spring weather conditions, stick to trails, dispose of our waste properly, minimise fire impacts, leave what you find, keep a safe distance from wildlife, and be considerate of others.
If you are well, remain active through outdoor pursuits, but do your part and comply with the latest Government guidelines issued by the HSE in the Republic of Ireland and the HSC Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland. For more up to date information and advice about Coronavirus (COVID-19), please visit www2.hse.ie/coronavirus.
For ideas on where to find inspiration for safe and responsible outdoor activities, see www.leavenotraceireland.org Share these ideas with friends and family on social media #LeaveNoTrace #WeLoveNature Leave No Trace Ireland is endorsed by Comhairle na Tuaithe, the National Countryside and Recreation Strategy, and the Northern Ireland Outdoor Recreation Plan as the only recognised outdoor ethics education programme in Ireland that promotes caring recreational use of the countryside. The Leave No Trace message has been adopted by key state and national organisations including government departments, state agencies and national governing bodies of sport, education and training and a range of businesses. These include the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Inland Fisheries Ireland, Sport Ireland, Coillte, the OPW, Waterways Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, the Department of Rural and Community Development and the Irish Environmental Network.