Led by Leave No Trace Ireland, ‘SEE’ stands for Sustainability and Environmental Education in Outdoor Sports.
Outdoor sports & Nature
The connection between outdoor sports and nature seems to be an obvious one, and indeed, through the pandemic more than ever people are drawn to the outdoors. However, just because activities are practiced outdoors, does not mean that they are done in harmony with nature. A thought-provoking article by Alex Roddie for The Great Outdoors Magazine sheds light on this phenomenon. For some outdoor sports practitioners, there is a gap between being out in, and enjoying, nature and looking after our shared natural heritage. The ‘SEE’ projects wants to look at challenges of outdoor sports across Europe and train outdoor sports trainers in good practice, to allow increased participation so that more people can enjoy the recognised benefits of Health Enhancing Physical Activity in the outdoors..
Survey on Outdoor Sports in Protected Areas
In the initial phase of the SEE project, EUROPARC has created a survey – available in 4 languages – to collect inputs from parks and Protected Areas across Europe. The outcomes of the survey should identify the various challenges and opportunities that outdoor sports represent for natural spaces and their management. The outputs of the survey are currently being analysed and will contribute to the preparation of a toolkit for OS trainers and educators in order to ensure a more sustainable, respectful and enjoyable experience of being active in nature.
Protected Areas and Outdoor Sports
There is no doubt, that outdoor sports offer many benefits to people of all ages. It allows for positive contact with nature, be with friends and remain mentally and physically healthy. Outdoor sports can often be supporters of Protected Areas and on the whole our Parks and Protected Areas welcome such activities, but how can we manage these better to ensure outdoor sports are more sustainable and that the impacts of such activities are minimised and mitigated?
To answer that question, EUROPARC has joined the SEE project: an extensive collaboration with partners from across Europe that wants to explore together the topic of sustainability and environmental education. The project began in January of this year and is funded by the European Commission under the Erasmus + Sports programme. It will run for three years.
Practicing outdoor sports in harmony with nature needs well-educated trainers of outdoor sports on the topic of sustainable outdoor activities
This is why EUROPARC is excited to join this project. To practice outdoor sport in Protected Areas in harmony with nature, we need trainers of outdoor sports themselves to have sound environmental and sustainable training, knowledge and skills, in order to build this capacity in the whole sector.
The SEE project takes on a multi-disciplinary approach to the development and application of training needs. The approach ensures that it is both robust yet deliverable in a practical manner for grassroots outdoor sports. In it’s initial stage, the project will examine the challenges facing increased participation of outdoor sport across Europe. With this data a toolkit, which will emphasise educational and environmental good practise, will be developed. This toolkit will undergo rigorous testing and evaluation throughout Europe, and the results will be disseminated across social media platforms, including the creation of a SEE project website.
Ultimately this project is about the citizens of Europe enjoying a better, healthier, and happier lifestyle.
Ensuring that outdoor sports are managed sustainably and responsibly in natural and Protected Areas will enable greater confidence to allow increased participation, so that more people can enjoy the recognised benefits of Health Enhancing Physical Activity in the outdoors.
The collaborative and multi-disciplinary approach is ensured through 10 partners from 9 EU countries:
- Leave No Trace Ireland
- Technical University Munich
- Sport Northern Ireland
- National Resource Centre for Expertise and Sport Performance
- The National Institute for Physical Education in Catalonia
- International Mountain Biking Association Europe
- Mountaineering Association Tara
- Surf Clube de Viana
- EUROPARC Federation
The project is an excellent opportunity for EUROPARC’s network to report on impacts identified by individual and multiple outdoor sports and to provide and exchange on ways to minimise and mitigate them.
To this end, we launched a survey (see above) – in 4 languages – to all our members in order to identify these challenges and opportunities on all different type of habitats. Watch this space for all updates.
If you would like to find out more about the SEE Project, you can get in touch with Dr Noel Doyle, who is the project co-ordinator. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The contact person for the EUROPARC Federation is Teresa Pastor: email@example.com
We will continue to post updates on the projects through our website and social media. Already interested in proper behavior in outdoor sports? Have a look at EUROPARC’s cooperation with ENOS: