Leave No Trace
There are many ways to enjoy the outdoors. Sadly, our personal enjoyment often comes at a cost to the environment that we love. Many of the National Park’s habitats are particularly fragile. Litter, eroded soils, trampled vegetation, scars from fires, human waste and displaced wildlife are just some of the impacts directly linked to our recreational activities.
Leave No Trace (LNT) is an ethos that helps to reduce our impact on the environment. LNT skills and ethics are not regulations. They are guidelines meant to help visitors make more informed decisions in the outdoors so that they may leave the area as beautiful and as natural as they found it. By understanding how we impact on wildlife, landscapes and each other, we can modify our behaviour to ensure that we treat the land, animals and people with respect.
Leave the Park the way you would like to find it!
The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace
- Plan Ahead and PrepareKnow the regulations and special concerns for the area that you’ll visit. The National Park Visitor Centre can advise on protected areas and seasonal concerns.
- Check if your chosen recreation or activity is permitted. Always follow signs.
- Check the weather forecast. Prepare for changeable weather and the possibility of something going wrong.
- Ensure you have the skills and equipment needed for your activity.
- If you are a group leader you have added responsibilities – know the competencies and expectations of your group.
- For environmental, safety and social reasons split large parties into smaller groups of less than 10 people (ideally between 4-6).
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Durable surfaces include established trails, rock, gravel, dry grass and snow.
- On eroded tracks keep to the centre of the track, even when wet and muddy, to avoid widening the erosion.
- In pristine areas disperse use to avoid creating new tracks.
- Avoid areas where impacts are just beginning to show.
- *For details on camping, please see our ‘Camping in Connemara National Park’.
- Respect 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.
- Dogs should be kept under effective control – i.e. they should come at first call.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young and winter.
- Leave What You Find
- Take care not to damage old walls, ruins and their workings.
- Leave rocks, plants, animals and other natural objects as you find them. Fallen trees and dead wood are valuable wildlife habitats – please do not remove or damage.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non – native species, e.g. wash down all boats to avoid introducing zebra mussels.
- Be Considerate of Others
- Park carefully – avoid blocking gateways and forest entrances. Remember that Park staff and the emergency services may need access at all times.
- Respect other visitors and the quality of their experience.
- Take rest breaks away from tracks.
- Let nature’s sounds prevail; avoid loud noises.
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Leave No Waste – remove all rubbish and leftover food items, even biodegradable items like teabags and fruit peels.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 30m away from streams or lakes, use small amounts of biodegradable soaps if necessary. Scatter strained waste water.
- Human waste should be buried or carried out depending on soil type. Waterlogged soils impede the proper breakdown of waste. Human waste should be removed from all areas.
- To dispose of solid human waste, dig a ‘cathole’ – a hole 10 – 12cm deep, located at least 30m away from watercourses and 50m from walking routes. Cover and disguise the hole when finished.
- All toilet and hygiene products should be carried out.
- Minimize the Effects of Fire
- Fire can be devastating to habitats and wildlife. Campfires are not currently permitted in the National Park; the issuing of permits for campfires is suspended pending review.
For more information, see www.leavenotraceireland.org
Code of Conduct for Dog Owners
Dogs that are under control are welcome in the National Park, but owners must at all times be conscious of their responsibility to other visitors and wildlife.
The following points will help dogs, their owners, other visitors and wildlife to have a safe and happy day.
- Always carry a lead and use it when necessary. This may mean keeping your dog on a lead at all times.
- Be honest with yourself regarding the obedience of your dog. To be safe off the lead in the National Park means that the dog stays to heel when asked to do so and always returns when called, irrespective of distractions. In reality, few dogs are this well trained.
- Be aware that the National Park has hazards for dogs. Every year, dogs are killed or seriously injured falling off cliffs. Many go missing; not all are found again.
- Be aware that the National Park is primarily for the conservation of nature. Wildlife must never be stressed by your dog. Deer and goats are regularly attacked by dogs. injured wildlife often does not survive after such an attack. Even if wildlife is not physically attacked, dog owners should be aware that wildlife that is disturbed when foraging for food may suffer harm as a result.
- Be aware that the National Park is also home to Connemara ponies and farm animals, especially sheep, cattle and donkeys.
- Be aware that other people may not love your dog and may even be scared of it. Please put your dog on a lead around other visitors.
- Please carry poo bags and use them. Dog poo is not pleasant for other visitors and may be harmful, especially to young children. Dog poo, if left, introduces nutrients in wild habitats and may adversely affect the ecology. Please always pick up after your dog.
- Most of the National Park is wild and has no bins. Dog poo, once bagged, must be carried home. Be aware that leaving a full bag on the side of the trail is even worse than not picking up after your dog.
Photography and Drones
With its beautiful scenery and wildlife, the National Park is a mecca for photographers. Visitors are welcome to take photographs for their own use.
Commercial photography will require a permit.
Nature photographers must be aware of the sensitivity of their subjects. Animals and birds must never be stressed by a photographer approaching too closely.
Nests may only be photographed or filmed under permit and licence.
Drones are only allowed in the National Park under permit.
Low flying aircraft and other objects (drones, kites, hand-gliders, etc) are forbidden within the Park because of their disturbance to wildlife, in particular nesting birds.
Photographic drones are also an invasion of the privacy of other visitors.
If you have any queries, please contact us.
Camping in Connemara National Park
Campsites should be at least 400m from a road capable of carrying a vehicle.
Campsites should be at least 400m from a building.
Tents should be moved every second night to allow vegetation to recover.
Campers will remove all food waste and litter, whether or not it is biodegradable. Buried waste could be exposed by foraging animals or by erosion.
Latrine protocol: catholes for disposal of human waste should be located at least 30m away from water courses and 50m from walking routes. Human waste should be buried or carried out of the site. No evidence of latrine use should remain visible. All toilet paper and hygiene products must be carried out.
Campfires are allowed by written permit only, where permitted, use only mound fires. Use only sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand, do not cut growing vegetation.
Soap and toothpaste must be kept at least 30m away from water courses.
Dish and utensil washing should be conducted at least 30 m from water bodies. All waste water should be strained and scattered. In no circumstances should waste water used in washing be poured into lakes, streams or rivers.
Campers are required to conduct themselves in a quiet manner, disturbing neither local community, wildlife or other visitors.
Camp sites must be visually unobtrusive and must be left as found or better.
Failure to comply with this code will result in withdrawal of permission to camp. In such cases, National Park Rangers will demand that visitors break camp.