New pledge aims to educate outdoor novices about responsible use of shared outdoor spaces
The good news is that Canadians are experiencing the outdoors in record numbers, enjoying the mental and physical health benefits and growing the number of people who care about in conservation. The flip side is that the increase in outdoor enthusiasts is leaving an impact.
“Land managers and trail groups across the country tell us they are struggling to keep up with the influx of people,” says Richard Vinson, the chair for Leave No Trace Canada, a non-profit that promotes the sustainable use of parks and natural spaces. “With more people sharing these outdoor places, the more it matters how we all behave when we’re out there. Visitors and trail managers tell Leave No Trace this increase is leading to more waste left behind, more off-trail damage, more campfire scars, more wildlife disturbance and more user conflicts
That’s why Leave No Trace Canada and Subaru Canada have launched a joint project encouraging Canadians to take the new Leave No Trace Pledge. By visiting LeaveNoTrace.ca, people can learn about the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace, and then commit to adopting them by taking the Pledge. For everyone who shares their Pledge on social media, Subaru Canada will plant a tree in the spring of 2024.
“We’re planting trees in Canada, educating people and protecting parks, natural spaces and wildlife all at the same time,” says Vinson. The Pledge is something anyone can do to show that they care.”
Subaru Canada also sees this as a way to mitigate environmental impacts. “We look forward to challenging Canadians to take The Pledge as we believe these guidelines provide the basis of responsible exploration,” says Tomohiro Kubota, chair, president and CEO of Subaru Canada Inc.
Outdoor recreation and park use were both increasing across the country before 2020 and then shot up significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. A Park People report found that 66 percent of Canadians increased their park visits since 2019, while a Leger Opinion study for the Trans Canada Trail found 40 percent of Canadians increased their trail use in 2021. In addition, Parks Canada experienced its busiest camping years ever with more than 500,000 camping nights in 2022.
“I think most of the impacts are from people who don’t know there is a better way,” says Vinson. “This is where the Leave No Trace principles come in. They’re guidelines to help people be gentler users of our natural spaces.”
The Seven Leave No Trace Principles are:
Plan ahead and prepare
Travel and camp on durable surfaces
Dispose of waste properly
Leave what you find
Minimize campfire impacts
Be considerate of others.
Learn more about the Seven Principles and take the Leave No Trace Pledge at LeaveNoTrace.ca.