Outdoor Sports – Engaging with or using 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 outside, does not necessarily mean that they are done in harmony with nature. In some cases, outdoor sports practice can pose additional stress on already fragile habitats and sensitive species. Protected Areas managers are therefore confronted with the task of minimising the impact of outdoor sports on local fauna and flora, and at the same time, welcoming sport practitioners and other visitors so that more people can enjoy the recognised benefits of Health Enhancing Physical Activity in the outdoors.

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Webinar summary and presentations

The session started with a welcome message to over 200 participants by Carol Ritchie, Executive Director at EUROPARC Federation.

The first case study presenter was Lissa Breugelmans, an avid cyclist, with a Masters in Biology. She shared her perspective of an outdoor sport practitioner who understands the current impacts of outdoor activities on nature, the dilemmas associated with her passion for outdoor sports and discussed potential solutions. She highlighted that recreational users need to be made aware of environmental issues and that it is important to include them in the solution since “You don’t love what you don’t know“.

Download the presentation “Dillemmas of an outdoor enthusiast”

Second, we heard from Daniele Piazza, director of the Dell’Ossola Protected Area in Italy. He presented the RESICETS project, in which his park works together with outdoor sport stakeholders in an integrated strategy to minimise the impact of outdoor activities on the alpine habitats and wildlife. You can re-watch the inspiring video Mr. Piazza shared at the end of his speech and find more information about the initiative Be Part of the Mountain that tries to bring people to the mountains to appreciate not only the recreational activities, but also the natural wealth and diversity they host.

Download the presentation of the “RESICETS project”

Our third speaker, Myles Farnbank of Wilderness Scotland and Leave No Trace, shared his perspective of an adventure guide and how the role of guides has evolved over time. He highlighted the importance of environmental ethics that good guides can  hand over to the general public. Mr. Farnbank then presented the Adventure Travel Guide Standard, a useful tool to institutions, sustainable destinations and training programs, in order to build the capacity of the Outdoor sport sector on the three core responsibilities all trainers should have: Sustainability, Safety, and Quality and Meaning.

Download the presentation of “The Adventure Travel Guide Standard”

After a short Q&A session, Mike McClure from Sport Northern Ireland publicly launched the new ERASMUS+ SEE project. Led by Leave No Trace Ireland, ‘SEE’ stands for Sustainability and Environmental Education in Outdoor Sports and aims to tackle the un-coordinated approach to the teaching and communication of environmental ethics in outdoor sport and recreation.

Download the presentation of the “SEE-Project”


The webinar was concluded by remarks of Noel Doyle of Leave No Trace Ireland, the SEE project lead. He emphasised that we need engagement from all of stakeholders including the outdoor sport federations, professionals and enthusiasts, to help us develop a more sustainable, responsible and enjoyable outdoor sport experience.

The SEE Project

Training for a more sustainable, respectful and enjoyable outdoor sport experience.

This webinar publicly launched the ERASMUS+ SEE project, in which EUROPARC is one of the partners. Led by Leave No Trace Ireland, ‘SEE’ stands for Sustainability and Environmental Education in Outdoor Sports. The project aims to tackle the un-coordinated approach to the teaching and communication of environmental ethics in the spheres of outdoor sports and recreation.

We invite members across the EUROPARC network (and beyond) to take part and share their inputs via our new survey!

In the presentation of the SEE project, Mike McClure also launched a survey on Outdoor Sports in Protected Areas, which should provide inputs for the research part of the project. The survey is addressed to parks and Protected Area managers (or anyone with management authority over a publicly accessible natural area) across Europe. It is available in 4 languages and should take about 15 minutes to complete. Read more about the survey here or go directly to the survey.

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