Happy and Healthy Communities: The Impact and Value of Being Active Outdoors

Start Date

3rd March, 2021

End Date

3rd March, 2021






Summary Description

Our next event will be our Outdoor Recreation NI Conference and Strategy Launch

Registration is now closed.

Registered attendees will receive their online access links via e-zine on 2nd March 2021. If you have not received your links you can click below or contact Kerry: kerry@outdoorrecreationni.com

Morning Session

Afternoon Session

We look forward to seeing you there.




Course Description

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to live, work and move differently, and to envisage a better, greener, and healthier future. The impact and value of the outdoors, particularly to health and wellbeing has never been so apparent and it is now essential that the outdoor recreation sector seizes the opportunity to champion its role in creating a healthier and happier society.

Being active outdoors as part of everyday life will benefit everyone in Northern Ireland – and the key to this is improving access to, participation in, and connection to nature. This will also deliver on Government priorities such as improving physical activity, mental health and wellbeing, the environment, and the economy.

The conference will share the latest research on the importance of walking and being active outdoors to health and wellbeing – and how the population of Northern Ireland has been engaging with the outdoors over the past year, the benefits gained, and the barriers faced. The event will also launch Outdoor Recreation NI’s Strategic Plan 2020 – 2025 that outlines how we will realise our vision ‘to create a happier, healthier society where enjoyment and appreciation of the outdoor improves wellbeing’.

Drawing on good practice, the conference will also showcase three examples of projects where a community’s access to, participation in, and connection to nature has increased and the impact that this has had. There will also be breakout rooms to enable participants to share their own insights, reflections, and experiences on enabling communities to be active outdoors.

Course Content

10:30-12:00 Morning Session – Why Outdoor Recreation

10:30-10:45 Welcome and Videos from Stormont Ministers

10:45-11:05 Keynote Speaker: Why we need to walk and the outdoors – Professor Shane O’Mara, Trinity College Dublin

11:05-11:25 Research and Data: What the public are telling us? – Aideen Martin, Outdoor Recreation NI and Duncan Stewart, 56 Degree Insight

11:25-11:55 Launch of the Outdoor Recreation NI Strategic Plan 2020-2025 – Dawson Stelfox, Outdoor Recreation NI

11:55-12:00 Round-up before lunch


13:00-15:00 Afternoon Session – Making it Happen

13:00-13:10 Afternoon Welcome

13:10-13:40 The value and impact of Darkley Community Trail – Willie Monaghan, Darkley Rural Community Group, Elizabeth Rogers and Claire Saunders, Outdoor Recreation NI

13:40-14:00 Gosford forest park: Masterplan to reality – Fiona Milne, Outdoor Recreation NI, Greg Ferson, Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and Aubrey Bingham, Disability Sport NI

14:00-14:20 Cuilcagh to Cleenish: Engaging with Community – Chris Scott, Outdoor Recreation NI, Barney Devine, Cleenish Community Association, Martina O’Neill, Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark and Paul Mullan, National Lottery Heritage Fund

14:20-14:30 Round up and message from Stormont Minister


14:30-15:00 Breakout Rooms
  1. Research and Policy: The way forward?
  2. Communicating the value of local trails and greenspace
  3. The benefits (and challenges) of Masterplanning
  4. Working and walking together: Local residents and landowners


*As this is a live event, some timings are subject to change throughout the day.


Why Attend?

This conference will be of significant value to all stakeholders in Northern Ireland who have a role in shaping future outdoor recreation policy, strategy and programmes and developing / managing outdoor recreation sites and projects.