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Leave No Trace Principles

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Last Updated: July 25, 2021

During the Covid-19 pandemic, as we've all been under lockdown in one form or another, more and more people are discovering the joys and relief of being outdoors in nature, and the way it soothes us, restores us, and contextualizes our place as homo sapiens within the much wider, amazingly diverse web of life on this small blue planet in the milky way that we call home.

In true 21st century fashion, many are inspired by YouTube videos of catching and cooking wild food, travelling in "the wild", building lean-to's and other survival or primitive structures, and look to head out into the bush to try their hands at emulating the content they've been eagerly watching

Inspiration to get outdoors is a wonderful thing, but consider this: while one person cutting trees, clearing brush, and using the resources in an area doesn't necessarily result in a long term negative impact, a few hundred or thousand subscribers doing the same absolutely can and does.

More and more pressure is being put on our natural and wild spaces, and the flora, fauna, and people who live in and around these areas.

It's important that we all keep our personal practices, and their impacts on the environment in mind when out in the outdoors. The earth is not a limitless big box store of building and burning materials, it's a delicate, complex living system of fellow creatures, plants, insects, weather, water, rock, soil, bacteria and (yes even) viruses that live alongside us.

It’s increasingly imperative that all who use and enjoy outdoor spaces be good stewards, and employ sound, low impact practices; to walk softly on mother earth. There are simply too many people accessing a limited number of outdoor areas to do otherwise.

Leave No Trace Canada has been advocating and educating Canadians about low impact land use for decades through the use of 7 main Principles:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Others

As outdoor enthusiasts, we strongly recommend these 7 principles as concepts to guide and formulate thoughts and actions when in the outdoors.

How though can a retailer selling implements to take down trees also abide by Leave No Trace principles?

Axes and saws are tools, much like pens or typewriters. You can write poetry with them, or you can write racist screeds. The difference is in how they're put to use. Using a hatchet to collect wood in an area with ample resources for your stick stove adheres to the principles. Taking down large dead standing trees at a well used campsite for a bonfire does not. Using a saw to clear deadfall while on an unmaintained portage is useful - sawing up green trees to make bush furniture at camp is not.

Winter camping by it's nature involves collecting and processing wood for your stove, and a heavier use of the environment. Going to areas that are out of the way, have plenty of resources, a healthy regeneration rate, and not over harvesting or denuding the area is key.

Areas such as Provincial Parks, National parks and easily accessible Crown Land are accessed by many, many people - so keep this in mind when taking out your axe or saw to these areas.

Now more than ever, we all need natural areas and what they provide - let's make sure we're all doing our part to ensure they stay natural and healthy for generations to come.

The Canadian Outdoor Equipment Co. supports Leave No Trace Canada in promoting responsible, low impact camping and land use.
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