Have you ever heard of the seven principles of Leave No Trace? Maybe yes, maybe not. But what do they mean? Created by the Leave No Trace Centre for Outdoor Ethics, the Seven Leave No Trace Principles cover everything from preparing and planning an excursion to how best to dispose of trash. They show us how to minimise our impact on nature. The principles of Leave no trace are not very well-known in the countries of Southeast Europe. However, they are a necessary approach to enjoying nature’s beauty and not impacting wild nature.
The Association for Active Tourism Explorer of North Macedonia recently finished a project supported by PONT and CEPF around building the capacity of communities living near Galicica National Park on the Leave No Trace (LNT) approach. About 20 stakeholders, and many tour operators, became part of the activities developed over the last 10 months, and, through different processes, have learned and implemented the seven principles of LNT.
During the project implementation, the team carried out exciting active and educational exercises, with a mild competitive edge, through which we learnt about the importance of teamwork. We also developed discussions around:
- Leading by example,
- Networking with other organisations and cooperating with Galicica National Park,
- Emphasising Environmental Protection,
- Safety in active tourism,
- Impact of tourism in Protected Areas and more.
Explorer also invited the best LNT trainers in the region to participate in the project implementation activities. They shared their knowledge and experience with young people passionate about walking in nature and nature tourism.
Dimitri Dimitrov, the leader of the Association for Active Tourism Explorer of North Macedonia, said “Today, Leave No Trace encompasses a diverse set of programs and practices that connect nature-based tourism and institutions that protect wilderness areas. The seven core principles of LNT seek to minimise human impact associated with mass recreation in protected areas. A memorandum of understanding was signed between the three parties: NP Galicica, Municipal Department of Ohrid and Explorer MK helping us implement this project and include as many actors as possible.”
It is hoped Leave No Trace will be embraced by Galicica NP management as well as tourism operators providing services in the park. Explorer concluded the planned activities by suggesting a new framework for building on the successes of LNT while moving beyond its self-imposed limitations and recapturing wilderness recreation as a more collaborative, participatory action.