The Seven Principles of Forest School

The seven principles outline ethics to help outdoor enthusiasts, instructors, guides and centres alike to

  • Value the natural environment
  • Understand the impact of their activities
  • Enable them to make decisions to minimise that impact
  • Enjoy their activities in a sustainable way

The seven principles are

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies
  • Where possible check for local and seasonal restrictions on areas you plan to visit
  • If possible plan your trip to avoid times of high use
  • Where possible travel by public transport, share cars or use a mini bus and consider all parking issues
  • Visit in small groups. Ideally split into groups of 4-6
  • Repackage food to minimise waste
  • Plan your route. Use a map and compass to eliminate the use and reliance on markers, cairns and other unnecessary way-markers

Travel and Set up Base on Durable Ground

  • Durable surfaces include established paths and sites, rock, gravel, sand, dry grasses or snow
  • Protect riparian areas by placing base at least 75 metres from lakes and rivers
  • Good sites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary
  • In popular areas:
    • Concentrate use on existing paths and sites
    • Walk single file in the middle of the path, even when wet or muddy
    • Keep sites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent
  • In pristine areas:
    • Disperse use to prevent the creation of sites and paths
    • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning

Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Carry it in, carry it out. Inspect your site and rest spots for rubbish or spilled foods. Carry out all rubbish, leftover food, and litter, including ALL biodegradable foods
  • In most situations deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 15 to 20 cm deep at least 75 metres from water and paths. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 75 metres away from rivers or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater

Leave It As You Find It

  • Respect all property such as farming and forestry equipment, stores, barns, fences and stone walls. Leave gates as you find them
  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts
  • Conserve the present: leave rocks, flowers animals and all natural habitats as you find them
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species

Minimise the Effects of Fire

  • fires can cause lasting impacts to the outdoors. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground or hanging dead wood that can be broken by hand
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out fires completely, then scatter cool ashes

Respect Farm Animals and Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviour, and exposes them to predators and other dangers
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and rubbish securely
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home
  • Observe all local bylaws and notices regarding seasonal restrictions
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter

Be Considerate of Others

  • Respect other visitors, residents and those working and protect the quality of their experience and livelihoods
  • Park with consideration: avoid blocking gateways and narrow lanes to farm or forestry vehicles, local residents or emergency services
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the paths
  • Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noise

To practice any of the Leave No Trace ethics is very simple:

Make it hard for others to see or hear you and LEAVE NO TRACE! of your visit.