The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the outdoors by teaching people to enjoy it responsibly. Leave No Trace provides cutting-edge research, education, and initiatives so every person who ventures outside can learn how to protect and enjoy our world responsibly. The need for Leave No Trace has never been greater—land managers estimate that 9 out of 10 people who visit the outdoors are uninformed about how to effectively minimize their impacts. The Center provides effective solutions to this important problem. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics focuses on people—instead of costly restoration programs, or closing natural areas access restrictions—as the most effective and least resource-intensive solution to protecting natural areas.
The work we do is informed by two overarching goals:
- Make Leave No Trace relevant and accessible for everyone who spends time outside.
- Ensure that young people learn about Leave No Trace and develop an ethic of protecting outdoor spaces.
Visitors to outdoor areas consistently ranking the possibility of seeing wildlife as a main attraction for experiencing nature. Experiences with wildlife are often inspirational, but they should be just that — wild. Too often, visitors lack the basic skills and knowledge needed to observe wildlife from a safe and respectful distance. They may even attempt to lure animals with food for a better look, or even attempt an ill-considered selfie photo.
Uninformed visitors often believe that feeding animals or encroaching on their spaces is harmless. Sadly, these interactions may become very detrimental, especially when we consider the cumulative impacts of human visitors over time. In popular viewing spots animals may become habituated to human presence and human-supplied food sources, leading to interactions that become negative for both people and wildlife.
Leave No Trace offers compelling content to educate people about the steps they can take to ensure that they are experiencing natural without disturbing wildlife or detracting from natural areas. With support from Fjallraven’s Arctic Fox Initiative the Center will introduce new resources to increase the visibility and effectiveness of this messaging.
In 2019, a educational video series about interactions with wildlife will be combined with a new online learning module developed by the Center’s education staff. The Center will bring these materials to our large network of supporters, as well as our partners in education, land management, and community volunteers. These skills will also be taught and reinforced in the field as our Traveling Trainers conduct in-field education sessions.
Results so far
Leave No Trace education reaches millions of people each year, inspiring visitors to protect and respect wild places. In 2018, we conducted 592 training programs and connected more than 235,000 youth to the outdoors through our programs. For the Arctic Fox Initiative, our educational videos and online training module will offer robust metrics on how many people have taken the simple steps needed to become better informed and do their parts to protect wildlife and natural habitats.