How to ‘leave no trace’ on your next visit to a national park

How to ‘leave no trace’ on your next visit to a national park

From tak­ing your rub­bish with you to bring­ing your own fire­wood, here’s how to keep SA’s nation­al parks untouched.

One of the most impor­tant things you can do in a nation­al park is to leave the area exact­ly how you found it when you arrived. This means leav­ing no trace and tak­ing out what you bring in. 

We are so for­tu­nate in South Aus­tralia to have many beau­ti­ful nation­al parks to bush­walk, ride, camp and stay in and it’s vital that we take good care of them.

Here are 5 things you can do to leave no trace’:

1. Take your rub­bish with you

Think about what you’ll need for your camp­ing trip or pic­nic and how you can reduce the amount of rub­bish you’ll create.

Bring a few garbage bags and take your rub­bish with you when you leave – don’t dump your rub­bish in the park.

Ani­mals can eas­i­ly get into garbage bags, dis­trib­ut­ing rub­bish far and wide, or they can poten­tial­ly become sick or injured from eat­ing the contents.

2. Bring your own firewood

If you’re look­ing to build a camp­fire dur­ing your stay, bring your own fire­wood. Ser­vice sta­tions often sell high-qual­i­ty wood at a low cost.

Remem­ber, you can’t for­age for, or cut down, wood in a nation­al park. Dead and fall­en tim­ber is impor­tant habi­tat for birds, ani­mals and insects.

Top tip: Find out how to safe­ly enjoy a camp­fire by check­ing Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice’s web­site or read­ing our sto­ry: Every­thing you need to know about safe­ly enjoy­ing a camp­fire.

3. Clean up after your dog

In SA, there are 17 nation­al parks where you can take your dog. For the pro­tec­tion of native wildlife and your dog, the oth­er 342 parks do not allow dogs.

If you’re in one of the 17 parks where dogs are per­mit­ted and your fur­ry friend needs to use the bath­room, make sure you clean up after them and take the rub­bish with you. No one likes hav­ing to deal with anoth­er dog’s busi­ness or encounter plas­tic bags full of dog­gy doo on the trail.

Top tip: Learn more in: Every­thing you need to know about tak­ing dogs in SA’s nation­al parks.

4. Don’t take any­thing from a nation­al park

This is why they invent­ed smart­phones – you can cap­ture amaz­ing footage and videos in nation­al parks, so the only thing you need to fill while you’re there is your mem­o­ry card. Keep your pock­ets emp­ty, don’t take any of the nat­ur­al wildlife or habi­tat out of the park.

5. If nature calls, do the right thing

Last but not least, if nature calls, take lots of big steps away from any water source and make sure you bury all your evi­dence. Don’t go leav­ing your busi­ness uncovered.

Bring a trow­el or shov­el and dig a deep hole. Bury or burn your toi­let paper, just make sure it’s gone. There is noth­ing worse than pulling up at a camp­site only to find it lit­tered with toi­let confetti.

When you take your rub­bish home you save Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice waste man­age­ment costs, allow­ing the team to pro­vide oth­er ser­vices high­ly val­ued by the com­mu­ni­ty, such as employ­ing infor­ma­tion offi­cers and rangers who pro­vide impor­tant park infor­ma­tion ser­vices and main­tain parks vis­i­tor facilities.

How you can help

If you notice some­one dump­ing rub­bish or cut­ting down fire­wood in a nation­al park, do the right thing and report it to the ranger on duty. Con­tact details for each of SA’s nation­al parks can be found on the indi­vid­ual park pages of Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice’s web­site – you might like to screen­shot the con­tacts page on your mobile phone before you head off, just in case.

Won­der­ing what to pack if you’re head­ing out for a hike? Here’s our rec­om­men­da­tions:8 things to take on a hike in South Australia’s nation­al parks.

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in August 2020.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living