National Outdoor Recreation Strategy

Group of young adults on stand up paddleboards approaching a bridge on River Barrow

Client: Comhairle na Tuaithe (CNT)

The Challenge

To provide support services for the development of a National Outdoor Recreation Strategy for the Republic of Ireland.

The Role

The National Outdoor Recreation Strategy will provide a vision and an overarching framework for the growth and development of outdoor recreation in Ireland, drawing together the many strategies, programmes, agencies and elements in Ireland’s outdoor recreation sector around a shared vision.

The strategy should assist with and guide:

  • managing the increased demand for outdoor recreation in a sustainable way which respects and protects landowners, landscapes, heritage and fragile natural environments.
  • providing high-quality, accessible and inclusive outdoor recreation experiences for enhanced well-being, social and economic benefits.
  • information accessibility and availability, so as to encourage responsible recreational behaviour.
  • managing, maintaining and resourcing our outdoor recreation services and facilities.
  • creating opportunities for rural communities and landowners to benefit from the economic value of outdoor recreation activity.


The role of the Working Group is to develop a National Outdoor Recreation Strategy on behalf of CNT, to include the following:

  • agree a definition of Outdoor Recreation for the purposes of the Strategy;
  • agree the principles to underpin the new Strategy, which builds on the NCRS (2006);
  • develop a Vision for the growth and development of outdoor recreation in Ireland;
  • ensure there is broad on-going consultation within the outdoor recreation sector;
  • take cognisance of emerging trends within the outdoor recreation sector;
  • draft a National Outdoor Recreation Strategy for agreement with Comhairle na Tuaithe, and for approval by the Minister for Rural and Community Development and the Government.


The Strategy itself should:

  • have SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound).
  • include indicative costing for programmes within the strategy (e.g., overall cost) and its outputs.
  • include actions for delivery across all relevant Departments, State agencies and other participating stakeholders across a 5-year timeframe.
  • be a guiding framework for those involved in planning and managing outdoor recreation.
  • be used as a basis to determine value to society/ economy/ environment for future investment in outdoor recreation infrastructure.


The need for the National Outdoor Recreation Strategy has been heightened by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Research has demonstrated an increase in engagement with outdoor recreation which whilst positive has also posed challenges in terms of overcrowding and lack of responsible use of the outdoors. Whilst it is recognised recovery from the pandemic will bring a return to normality (i.e return of hospitality, cinemas, indoor play etc), outdoor recreation has an opportunity to learn and gain from the legacy of the recent unprecedented growth of new visitors engaging in new places.