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GREEN CLARE: Leave No Trace in Co Clare

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Leave No Trace is a nationwide inter-agency campaign that looks to combat littering in public hotspots such as National Parks, Nature Reserves, Forest Parks, OPW National Heritage Sites as well as rivers, beaches, forests and special areas of conservation.

Primed with a prudent proclamation, Love This Place, Leave No Trace, the campaign appeals to the good sense of individuals holidaying throughout the country to take personal responsibility with respect to the environment and public health and safety. A languid approach to mitigating the environmental impact left in special tourist hotspots is a growing concern cited by the government of Ireland since the onset of Covid-19.

Maura Kiely, CEO of Leave No Trace Ireland, urges everyone to take their litter home. Speaking to The Clare Echo, Maura broaches the subject of public littering and the necessity of an inter-agency approach, as well as concocting a cogent call to action for everyone to take personal responsibility and make a positive impact on our inimitable natural environment.

A first of its kind, as a specialised inter-agency approach in conjunction with the government of Ireland, the Leave No Trace campaign is Ireland’s only outdoor ethics programme. Predicated on education, research and partnerships, the commune of special interest groups and bodies work ardently and intelligently to support individuals, communities and corporate companies to reduce their environmental footfall with respect to outdoor activities.

Proud to be operating in a partnership with the Irish government, Maura is grateful for the support of the eight agencies assisting the campaign in getting the message out, asserting that they have all taken their role of personal responsibility in conserving our countryside quite seriously, allowing the campaign to get off to a really positive start. The eight agencies are The Department of Rural and Community Development, Fáilte Ireland, Inland Fisheries Ireland, Waterways Ireland, Coillte, Sport Ireland, The National Parks and Wildlife Services and The Office of Public Works.

Littering has a detrimental effect on our immediate environment, tells Maura, “it impacts our woodlands, people living in that area and our environment. It is also unsightly. For wildlife, aluminium cans can take up to 500 years to break down and plastic bags can take up to 20 years. Plastic as a whole, is a huge issue for wildlife, making them suffocate and they often cut themselves on sharp objects left behind by visitors. People can harm themselves in this process also. This is happening in all of our national tourist hotspots. In all our national parks, waterways and coillte woodlands.

“It’s certainly happening in County Clare. Broken bottles and glass, camping chairs, food waste and packaging as well as a proliferation of dog waste are some of the examples of what is being left behind at these locations. Littering is illegal and everyone can take personal responsibility and have a positive environmental impact. When holidaying, planning is important. Check regulations and local access. Ensure you leave any campsites you visit clean after you leave and avoid any unnecessary crowds. It’s essential to bring reusable water and coffee cups. Bring your litter home, that is the main message here.”

Litter, water, pollution, disturbance of vegetation, wildlife, livestock and other individuals are the key components that make up the techniques and guidelines supporting the Leave No Trace campaign. The campaign is designed as a solution, offering seven key principles inscribed on its website to assist in minimising the environmental and social impacts of these special tourist hotspots. The guidelines propose planning ahead and being mindful and considerate of others. Respecting farm animals and wildlife is crucial, setting up shop on durable surfaces as well as disposing of waste and leaving the natural environment as you find it are all part and parcel of proper holidaymaking etiquette.

Finally, the guidelines caution individuals to minimise the effects of fire. Maura appeals to everyone travelling to areas of special conservation to adhere to these guidelines, which can be found at www.leavenotraceireland.org.

On a final note, Maura touches on the importance of converting ideas into actions, “Over the month of August there is going to be a lot of public awareness. This campaign is all over the radio, it is happening as we speak. We have new guidelines available for everybody to access on our website. We are asking everybody to take personal responsibility. This is very important. We are also asking everybody to support us on social media. We have a campaign online with the government of Ireland. We will have lots more media and promotion events throughout the month. Read those free guidelines on our website and this will help everybody form good habits going forward.”

An avid reader from a young age, Cian’s love of the archives has been shared by Clare Echo readers who enjoy his Reeling in The Years section. Charles Dickens, Terry Pratchett and Michael Crichton were his favourites writers in his younger years while he was always a fan of studying the opinion columns in The Irish Independent. A past pupil of Lissycasey National School and St Flannan’s College, he is currently completing his final year studies at the University of Limerick in New Media and English. From September, he will be commencing a Masters Degree in Journalism at UL.

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