Is Leave No Trace Illogical?

20 October 2016
20 Oct 2016
1 min read

For those who are unfamiliar with the idea of Leave No Trace (LNT), it’s simply a set of rules to minimize human impact on wilderness areas. These areas are fragile and the importance of preserving these areas cannot be overstated.

As an economist, I’m most interested in Leave No Trace as a question of incentives. Why should I follow LNT principles in the wilderness when it’s more work for me? To add salt to the wound, there is a high chance that I will not even get to see the fruits of my labor. If we follow the idea that consumers are rational, LNT does not seem to make sense initially.


I think the reason why LNT is so well followed is that it’s part of a self perpetuating cycle; LNT is followed because those who go out into the wilderness care about the wilderness. Those are the people most willing to persevere the nature for the future generations and the best way to do this is to follow LNT principles. It’s like teaching salesmen a new sales technique. They’re going to follow the new strategies because it’s in their best interest to do so. It’s definitely an interesting thought though, one I plan to follow up on.

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