POMNI – December 2021

12th January 2022



Outdoor recreation plays a vital role in Northern Ireland, bringing benefits to society by contributing to a wide range of areas, including improving health and wellbeing, protecting the environment, tackling inequality, growing and greening the economy, increasing active travel, and enhancing education and learning. These benefits are delivered by a range of organisations from government departments, local authorities to organisations in the voluntary sector.

Research objective

Although the benefits of outdoor recreation are widely evidenced, until now there was no systematic 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 this research will help to address this information gap and builds on that previously developed in Outdoor Recreation: People, Nature and Health – March 2021. 

A new survey of the Northern Ireland adult population

In this context, following the publication of the report ‘The development of a quantitative baseline for Outdoor Recreation in Northern Ireland’, a partnership including Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland (ORNI), the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the Strategic Outdoor Recreation Group (SORG) commissioned 56 Degree Insight to undertake this research. This study has involved two phases:

  • Phase 1 -Carrying out a detailed analysis of relevant data collected in the Continuous Household Survey (CHS), Health Survey Northern Ireland (HSNI)and other relevant studies to identify the headline metrics which can be used to demonstrate and track the value of outdoor recreation in Northern Ireland.
  • Phase 2 –designing and undertaking a new survey of the Northern Ireland adult population during 2020 and 2021 to collect new data which further helps to demonstrate the importance of outdoor recreation in areas related to Programme for Government outcomes.

Results from six waves of surveying undertaken between November 2020 and October 2021

In total 6,048 interviews were undertaken across six waves of surveys between November 2020 – October 2021 providing robust data accurate to +/-1% at the 95% levels of confidence. When using the results, it is important to bear in mind that surveying was undertaken during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic including periods of ‘lockdown’ when restrictions were in place which impacted upon levels of participation in outdoor recreation. Information on the survey approach, fieldwork timings and how these related to different levels of Coronavirus related restrictions during each period of fieldwork are provided in the Appendix.

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