Best suggestions for starting a Leave-No-Trace campground?

I have a forested, scenic 100-acre property in Ontario with its own deep-drilled water supply. Starting an eco-aware Leave-No-Trace camping retreat is something I’d like to do with it. Has anyone else done something like this? Have any tips on best ways to maintain forest health? Things to optimize for campers?



  1. mle
    0 Votes

    This makes more sense to me when you describe it as a retreat instead of a campground.  I could envision a campground that has programs about leave no trace.  For instance, I attended a seminar one the wilderness once where we did many Leave No Trace exercises.  Here is the one that made the most impact on me:

    The objective was to give a visual example of what happens when everyone leaves toilet paper (and even human waste) behind.  There were about 20 of us in the exercise; each of us found a place to (pretend) “go.”  We did have boundaries about how far away we could go, but it was a big area we were allowed to be in.  We each left a piece of orange flagging at our place.  We regrouped and the group took a quick walk, noting how obvious and how clear all the flagging was; also how we tended to walk roughly the same distance from “camp” and how people were attracted to the same “hiding” spots.

    The following link lists ways to become certified as a master educator in Leave No Trace principles; I definitely suggest you get some type of certification (it helps with credibility).  The same site has activites and suggestions for activities (such as I described above) to help heighten awareness.

  2. 0 Votes

    Since it doesn’t sound like people will be hiking very far, so I think providing even minimal bathroom facilities (even compost or pit toilets) and garbage and recycling containers will really encourage people to leave no trace. Some people will never, ever leave garbage. Others may need a little more help to get in the habit.

    It really upsets me when people throw food waste like orange and banana peels into the woods, so maybe a sign at the entrance  emphasizing that even food must be packed out would help.

    Establishing designated camp sites and trails will also minimize the campers’ effects on the forest’s health, since fewer plants will have to be stomped down. I’m sure this could all be done in a really beautiful and natural way.

    Good luck!

    • 0 Votes

      Just out of curiosity, why does it bother you to see biodegradable food waste thrown out into the woods? Is the aesthetics? I do throw food into the woods, though i try to avoid letting it be seen, but i feel like it’s so much better than it ending up in a landfill where it could takes years to decompose. Any thoughts? It didn’t occur to me that it would bother anyone, but perhaps I should change my ways?

    • 0 Votes

      The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics gets this question a lot, and I have their short answer and principles linked at the bottom. The entire idea behind Leave No Trace is to leave NO trace, and food absolutely counts. The idea is to be nearly invisible.

      One of the biggest problems with leaving human food waste is that it can disrupt the diets and behaviors of the local wildlife. They can come to depend on human garbage instead of their healthier natural diets, and can become more aggressive when they want human food. Rodents can be annoying, but larger animals, like bears, can be dangerous. And once a bear is deemed dangerous, it is usually killed.

      And in consideration for the would-be campground host, this person probably doesn’t want every camper to hide their garbage all over their Leave No Trace property. Plus, foods like banana and orange peels are not native to many places people camp, and don’t belong in that ecosystem.

      But once you pack out your food waste, you’re welcome to compost it when you get home. You don’t have to put it in a landfill. And no, I don’t enjoy looking at litter, whether it’s the side of the road or a beautiful forest. Landfills have their problems, but that’s where our garbage goes–not the woods.

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