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

26th February 2021



The 2021 Outscape Conference and Strategy Launch was a huge success. Thank you to all who attended on the day and to all of the speakers who delivered presentations and research to the conference. 

We were delighted to have 5 Stormont ministers contribute on the day too with video messages from Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Gordon Lyons, Department of Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey, Department of Healthy Minister Robin Swann and Department of Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon and a live message from Department of Education Minister Peter Weir.

The conference was opened by Professor Shane O’Mara, from Trinity College Dublin, author of ‘In Praise of Walking: A New Scientific Exploration’ that was was chosen by the editors at Amazon.com as one of the best science books of 2020. It explores the science behind this most overlooked but defining human adaptation – one that enabled us to conquer the world – by walking together to new, and perhaps better, lives.

Following of from this, Aideen Martin, Head of Marketing and Participation at Outscape, and Duncan Stewart, Managing Partner of 56 Degree Insight, launched the new population wide research on how people in Northern Ireland engage with the natural environment, the benefits they gain from it, and the barriers they face trying to access it, and; how this aligns with current and future policy development and implementation. The data collected as part of the ‘Outdoor Recreation – People, Nature and Health’ research will help to address this information gap.

Then Dawson Stelfox, Chairperson of Outscape launched our new 2020-2025 strategic plan. We have already completed year one of this strategy and are delighted to share it with the public.

In the second half of the conference we explored some of the good news stories and examples of making it happen for outdoor recreation in Northern Ireland, including measuring the value and impact of Darkley Forest Community Trail, the importance of masterplanning for Gosford Forest Park, and the success of engaging with community for Cuilcagh to Cleenish,

If you weren’t able to attend on the day, the resources are available below:

Content Included:

Download Slides

To view the presentations, use the timings below to find them on the YouTube videos.

Morning Session Content: 

00:00-14:39 Welcome and Videos from Stormont Ministers

14:39-40:40 Keynote Speaker: Why we need to walk and the outdoors – Professor Shane O’Mara, Trinity College Dublin

40:41-59:32 Research and Data: What the public are telling us? – Aideen Martin, Outscape and Duncan Stewart, 56 Degree Insight

59:33-01:15:39 Launch of the Outscape Strategic Plan 2020-2025 – Dawson Stelfox, Outscape

01:15:40-01:27:04 Q&A with Speakers

Afternoon Session Content:

00:00-02:38 Afternoon Welcome

02:39-26:55 The value and impact of Darkley Community Trail – Willie Monaghan, Darkley Rural Community Group, Elizabeth Rogers and Claire Saunders, Outscape

26:56-57:30 Gosford forest park: Masterplan to reality – Fiona Milne, Outscape, Greg Ferson, Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and Aubrey Bingham, Disability Sport NI

57:31-01:22:13 Cuilcagh to Cleenish: Engaging with Community – Chris Scott, Outscape, Barney Devine, Cleenish Community Association, Martina O’Neill, Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark and Paul Mullan, National Lottery Heritage Fund

01:22:13-01:32:23 Round up and message from Minister Peter Weir