What to expect on a Leave No Trace Awareness CourseOct 26, 2021
Leave No Trace Ireland is an important educational charity that provides research and awareness on how best we can have minimal impact on our environment when we head outdoors. Through it’s 7 Principles it educates and informs us on how best we can protect the environment and act responsibly when outdoors while enjoying all the wonders our local heritage and nature provide us with. Luckily for us, Leave No Trace provides us with a fountain of informative resources so we can best educate ourselves in responsible outdoor ethics. The Leave No Trace Awareness Course is an opportunity to understand these 7 Principles and how we can apply them to our every day life and business. According to Fáilte Ireland’s key tourism facts for 2019, 96% of oversees tourists found our beautiful scenery to be the reason for their positive Irish experience, while 91% stated our natural, unspoilt environment was why they enjoyed their visit to Ireland. This highlights the importance of how the tourism industry should protect our natural assets. Tourism businesses have the opportunity to create a proactive and positive impact by actively promoting and educating visitors and staff in knowing how best to behave responsibly. I completed my awareness and trainers courses just this year, and through my experience, this is what I feel you can expect prior to partaking in the Leave No Trace Awareness Course.
Gain an in-depth understanding of the 7 Leave No Trace Principles
This is an obvious one. The structure of the 6-hour Awareness Course is to gain an understanding of the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace. The principles cover all the areas and scenarios that we may come across when venturing outside. You may find all 7 below. On your Awareness Course you will partake in both discussion and activities to best understand the 7 Principles and how they relate to your daily life and business.
Be immersed in the outdoors
There is no better way to understand the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace than to be immersed in the outdoors. The Awareness Course is not your traditional ‘classroom’ course. So be prepared, because depending on the weather, you will spend the majority of the day outside. With the climate here in Ireland, it goes without saying, wear appropriate clothing and footwear and wrap up warm. It is also advisable to bring your own lunch and maybe a hot beverage, though usually the Leave No Trace Centre will provide teas and coffees. However, as Principle 1 states, it is always best to ‘Plan and Prepare’.
Engage in thought-provoking conversation
In my experience, through the activities and discussion during the day, interesting conversations arise with participants bringing their life experiences and backgrounds to the topic of conversation. It is always stimulating to hear different perspectives and understandings. No question is a silly question as there is always a person who is thinking the same in a group. My advice is to embrace the opportunity, contribute and engage in the discussion as much as you can.
Continuing on from the last point, we must accept that we do not all think the same way. We are not all perfect and we can only do what is in our capabilities. We shouldn’t be critical of others and their actions, as everyone is trying their best. Taking the time to attend the course alone is dedication. It is healthy to have an active debate on topics that arise throughout the day. We do not have to agree on everything but it is always positive to gain perspective and an understanding of another’s thought process and opinion.
Important learnings to bring home and to work
You can be sure that after the Awareness Course you will be armed with any relevant resources and knowledge that you can bring home or to work to help you spread the message and ethos of Leave No Trace. This knowledge will help you to promote change and question our actions. All I can say is, expect to see a change in your behaviour.
Last, but by all means certainly not least, this course should not be a mundane task, it should be about creating a space for healthy debate and conversation, as mentioned before, with activities to explore each of the principles. It is an informal course structured in a laid-back manner. It should be a little bit of fun through learning and being in the outdoors.
The Leave No Trace Awareness Course is a great basis for proactive, positive and responsible tourism business behaviour. For the tourism businesses who are passionate about becoming sustainable, providing this opportunity to staff could be a great first step in informing them on the impact our actions and those of our visitors can have and to preserve Ireland's important tourism products and the Irish tourist experience. Tourism when done right has the power to make long-lasting positive change locally and further afield. By equipping both staff and visitors with the tools to safely protect our heritage and environment - two important reasons for why tourists come to visit - they can bring their learnings home creating a positive chain reaction. Now that you know what to expect on a Leave No Trace Awareness Course, you have already acknowledged its first principle – Plan and Prepare. Enjoy the course. Engage, learn and most importantly have fun!
Aoibheann is a certified Leave No Trace Trainer with a passion for the outdoors. Follow her future blogs on more ecotourism-related topics.
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