Tree carving is nothing new. People have been leaving their mark in this way for most of history. Once, it was a tool for telling our story, for letting others know where we had been, or marking some important site. Now however, we have cell phones and photographs and writing and social media. It is no longer necessary to leave our mark in this way, and what’s more, we now understand how this act can harm the tree itself.

Tree bark serves a similar purpose to skin. It acts as a protective layer, keeping bacteria and pests out, and guarding cells. When a tree is carved into, this protective layer is broken, leaving an open wound, similar to us getting a cut on our skin. This wound leaves open the possibility of diseases or pests entering the tree.

While it may be tempting to leave your mark through tree carving, the impacts caused are significant. By educating others and working together we can all Leave No Trace and protect forests.

© 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics:
Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics P.O. Box 997
Boulder, CO 80304 303-442-8222