Minister Malcolm Noonan pictured at the launch of the Leave No Trace campaign
A new public awareness campaign from Leave No Trace Ireland and its partners is calling on the public to exercise renewed care and responsibility when outdoors in managing dogs, preventing litter, and ensuring that there are no fires unless on a designated site.
Leave No Trace Ireland - Ireland’s only outdoor ethics programme which promotes the responsible use of the outdoors – is encouraging everyone to ‘Love This Place, Leave No Trace’.
The campaign, which will run throughout July, is asking the public to play their part by acting responsibly so that everyone can experience and enjoy outdoor spaces while helping to protect them from increased pressures this year as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
Speaking on the launch of the ‘Love This Place, Leave No Trace’ campaign, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, said it is important that everyone who enjoys the great outdoors embraces the Leave No Trace ethos.
“As we all look forward to an outdoor summer, it’s more important than ever to protect the places we love and leave no trace. We have a duty to our environment, to wildlife and to each other to be responsible stewards of the natural world – our national parks, woodlands, rivers, beaches, mountains and everywhere in between.
“Loving nature, wildlife and the great outdoors means being thoughtful, prepared and proactive – packing a picnic rather than a disposable bbq that could cause a serious fire, bringing a bin bag to pick up rubbish that could otherwise harm wildlife, keeping dogs on leads rather than letting them go and potentially worrying farm animals or breeding birds, keeping our distance from wild birds, mammals and marine life and observing them without disturbing or disrupting them.
“As more of us seek the beauty, exhilaration and escapism of outdoor recreation, our collective impact on the environment also increases. By being responsible and leaving no trace, we can help the wild places and species we love to stay wild.”
Leave No Trace Ireland Chief Executive, Maura Kiely said:
“Covid-19 has reawakened our appreciation of the outdoors with huge increases in the numbers of people using public parks and the open countryside for recreation, exercise and enjoyment. However, this is also putting pressure on open spaces which is threatening the quality and protection of the outdoors that are also important habitats for wildlife and a working environment for farmers. This campaign appeals to everyone to be considerate and take individual responsibility for our own impacts on the outdoors”.
The public awareness campaign is being run by Leave No Trace Ireland in partnership with Sport Ireland, the National Parks and Wildlife Services, under the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the Department of Rural and Community Development, the Office of Public Works, Fáilte Ireland, Waterways Ireland, Coillte, the National Parks and Wildlife Services, and Dublin City Council.
Sport Ireland Chief Executive, John Treacy said participating in sport and physical activity in the outdoors leads to many positive outcomes and it is vital to respect out natural environment.
“We have a growing network of walking and cycling trails, forest parks and recreation sites, national and local parks, upland areas, inland waterways, beaches and coastal areas all affording opportunities for people to be active in the outdoors safely. We all enjoy the outdoors in different ways. Pay attention, expect to encounter others and be courteous. Park safely, keeping access open for landowners and remember to bring all waste home with you. Doing so ensures that our trails can be enjoyed by all.”
The campaign focuses on three critical pressure points which have become increasingly evident as greater numbers of people ‘stay-cation’ and use outdoor public spaces for recreation during the Covid pandemic. These pressure points include increased littering of the countryside and outdoor spaces, an increase in dog fouling, dog worrying and attacks on farm livestock as the numbers of pet dogs approaches an estimated 800,000, and the devastation that can be caused by fires from campfires and barbeques that get out of control.
The Love This Place, Leave No Trace campaign will emphasise several key messages:
Plan ahead and always pack a bin bag with you when heading outdoors. By taking your rubbish home with you, you are playing your part in keeping our outdoor spaces litter free and beautiful.
Responsible Dog Ownership and Control:
Always pick up after your dog, bag it and safely bin it, or bring it home with you.
Keeping your dog on a lead shows consideration for others and avoids disturbing livestock and wildlife.
Campfires, and disposable BBQs:
No fires unless on a designated site. You should not light a campfire unless you have permission from the landowner.
If you are at a designated site, where campfires are permitted, make sure you have the skills for setting and using campfires. See leavenotraceireland.org for detailed guidance on using campfires safely.
Do not use disposable BBQs.
On litter, Maura Kiely said:
“We see the effects of littering in our beautiful national parks, nature reserves, forest parks, national heritage sites, rivers, beaches, forests and special areas of conservation as well as in urban areas and town parks. Small acts of personal responsibility can make a massive difference in the fight against litter, and everyone should bring a bin bag with them when planning a trip outdoors so that they can bring their rubbish home.”
The campaign is also appealing to dog owners to take extra care in controlling their pets and cleaning up after them.
“All the evidence points to an explosion in dog ownership. Many people are experiencing the joy of dog ownership and the companionship they bring for the first time. However, dog owners have responsibilities for the care of their pets and to the rest of society, and to non-dog owners in particular, to be considerate and protect public spaces from dog fouling.”
“Dog owners must be particularly aware that dogs can worry and cause stress to livestock which can result in physical injury and even death. Stress and injury can be caused even where dogs are with their owners and on a lead. We remind dog owners that it is a criminal offence under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 if a person’s dog worries livestock on agricultural land.”
“The obligation to ensure dogs do not worry livestock falls on all dog owners and not just those dog owners engaged in recreational activities in the countryside. Indeed, sheep kills and other damage to livestock is more likely from pet dogs that are allowed roam from their homes and left unsupervised for prolonged periods.”
Finally, the ‘Love This Place, Leave No Trace’ campaign is placing a special emphasis on warning of the hazards of lighting fires in the open countryside, including the use of disposable BBQs.
“This year we have seen the devastation that wildfires can cause to forests and areas of spectacular natural beauty. Carelessness in setting and using campfires and BBQs in the open countryside can quickly escalate into major incidents that can result in damage and destruction to wildlife and the environment. The Leave No Trace message is no campfires unless at a designated site. No disposable BBQs in the outdoors.
Information and guidelines for individuals, communities and organisations are available from https://www. leavenotraceireland.org/love- this-place-leave-no-trace. where you can also show your support and take the Love This Place, Leave No Trace Pledge.
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