Leave No Trace

We must do more than just pick up the litter and extinguish campfires. Follow the links to learn more about Leave no Trace.

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Plan ahead and prepare

Before you go check, where possible, if access is allowed and your activity is permitted in the area you wish to visit. You can do this by visiting the other pages on this site which provide a huge amount of information on our forests.

Respect any signs, regulations and special instructions for the area that you wish to visit. Permits are needed for activities such as camping, mountain biking (outside designated areas) horse riding etc. on our lands. Contact local district offices to obtain a permit.

Where possible travel by public transport or share cars; consider the availability of parking.

Ensure you have the skills and equipment needed for your activity and to cope with emergencies that could arise. Some of our trails will bring users into remote locations where outdoor skills, such as map reading, are essential

Check the weather forecast and always be prepared for changing weather conditions.

For environmental and safety reasons, and to minimise your impact on other users, keep group numbers to less than 8, if possible.

Be considerate of others

  • Respect the people who work in the forest or live near to our sites.
  • Park appropriately - avoid blocking forest entrances or narrow roads. Remember that forest  machinery, local residents and the emergency services may need access at all times.
  • Take care not to damage or interfere with property, especially walls, fences and timber stacks.
  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Let nature's sounds prevail. Keep noise to a minimum.
    Dogs should be kept under close control and should only be brought into the forest under full control. Not everyone loves your dog!

Respect farm animals and wildlife

  • Control your dog.
  • Observe wild animals and birds from a distance. Avoid disturbing them, particularly at sensitive times: mating, nesting and raising young (mostly between spring and early summer).
  • Keep wildlife wild, don't feed wild animals or birds - our foods damage their health and leave them vulnerable to predators.
  • Farm animals are not pets; remain at a safe distance.

Travel and camp on durable surfaces

NOTE: If camping you will need a permit - Available from the local district office.

  • Durable ground includes established tracks and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • If mountain biking learn the rules of the trail and stay on designated routes.
  • In popular areas: Concentrate use on existing tracks and designated campsites only.
  • In popular areas: To avoid further erosion, travel in single file in the middle of the track even when wet or muddy. Wear Gaiters or Wellington boots and walk through the wet area.
  • In more remote areas: Disperse use to prevent the creation of new tracks and campsites.
  • In more remote areas: Avoid places where impacts are just beginning to show.
  • If camping: Protect water quality by camping at least 30m from lakes and streams.
  • If camping: Keep campsites small and discreet.
  • If camping: Aim to leave your campsite as you found it, or better.

Leave what you find

  • Respect property. For example, forestry machinery, fences, stone walls etc.
  • Leave gates as you find them (open or closed).
  • Preserve the past: examine - without damaging - archaeological structures, old walls and heritage artefacts e.g. holy wells, mine workings, monuments.
  • Conserve the present: leave rocks, flowers, plants, animals and all natural habitats as you find them.
  • Fallen trees are a valuable wildlife habitat; do not remove or use for firewood.
  • Avoid introducing non-native plants and animals e.g. zebra mussels in rivers and lakes.
  • Do not build rock cairns, structures or shelters.

Dispose of waste properly

  • "If You Bring It In, Take It Out" - take home all litter and left over food (including tea bags, fruit peels and other biodegradable foods).
  • Use toilet facilities or in remote areas dispose of solid human waste correctly. Dig a hole 10-12cms deep and at least 30m from water, campsites and tracks. Cover and disguise the hole when finished.
  • If camping (with a permit) wash yourself or your dishes 30m away from streams or lakes and if necessary use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Bring home any solids and scatter strained dishwater.

Minimise the impacts of fire

Fires can cause lasting impacts and be devastating to forests and natural habitats Therefore when picnicking or camping use a lightweight stove for cooking.

Where fires are permitted:

  • Use established fire rings, barbecues or create a mound fire.
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand. Do not use growing vegetation for use.
  • Avoid burning plastics or other substances: which emit toxic fumes.
  • Burn all fires to ash, put out fires completely, and then scatter cool ashes or dispose of carefully.

Protecting Nature

Restoring Priority Woodland Habitats in Ireland

(LIFE 05 NAT/IRL/000182)    

At the end of 2005, Coillte received funding under the EU LIFE-Nature Programme for the restoration of over 550 hectares of priority native woodland habitats that are recognised under the EU Habitats Directive as being extremely rare and restricted in their distribution, not just in Ireland, but across the EU. Because of their extreme rarity, these woodland habitats are given "priority" status under the EU Habitats Directive. There are nine sites included in this project, in which four rare woodland habitats are targeted for restoration, namely alluvial woodland, bog woodland, woodland associated with limestone pavement and yew woodland.

Over the course of four years the project aims to address the main ecological threats to these valuable woodland habitats, namely the introduction and spread of exotic tree and shrub species, restoration of natural water regimes of the bog and alluvial woodlands, and control of animal grazing and trespass where appropriate. The project further aims to promote public awareness of these important habitat types through the creation of three demonstration sites at Clonbur Co's. Galway/Mayo, Caher Park, Co.Tipperary and Hazelwood, Co.Sligo.

The overall aim is to establish conditions which will allow natural regeneration of native woodland habitat. For more information on this project or to visit a LIFE woodland near you, you can visit the website at www.woodlandrestoration.ie.