from IOL CEO Andy Robinson, February 2016
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from IOL CEO Andy Robinson, February 2016

Date Added:29 February 2016

from IOL CEO Andy Robinson, February 2016

It’s too easy to get cynical about national initiatives carrying titles like ‘Year of Adventure’ but the Wales’ approach to 2016 as a year of adventure is definitely worth a closer look.  If you live on the west side of the border you will probably have already seen some of the media from Visit Wales which is well put together and shows the stuff that those of us who’ve been playing outdoors in Wales for a while, already treasure.  The bit that has captured my attention and I encourage you to engage with, especially if you’re based in Wales, was explored at a conference at Plas Menai last week, Inspiring Through Adventure.  A great gathering of professionals with ability and influence in the worlds of sport, education, health, environment and tourism, with the common theme being outdoor adventure.  This is about joining together with a common aim of better utilising the potential of the outdoors to create healthier generations that are more in touch with nature and that approach the natural environment as an integral element of their country’s economy and sustainable future.  In Wales this aspiration is backed up by recent supportive legislation and structuring of the management of the country’s natural resources.  We could all benefit by learning from this joined up approach.  For more information on how you might engage with this Welsh initiative, contact Andy Middleton or Paul Donovan.

Here at the Institute we are winding up our planning for the National Conference in 2016.  The conference will explore the role of outdoor learning in tackling global, local, inter-personal and intra-personal development needs.  Reflecting our sector’s increasingly integrated approach to development needs there will chance to consider your practice in the light of age related issues, health & wellbeing issues, economic & environmental sustainability and education beyond the school gate  If you would like to present a paper or share insights from your area of practice please contact us.  As well as the usual wealth of opportunities for networking the conference this year is being held in conjunction with AHOEC (Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres).  I encourage you to take advantage of early booking prices and ensure you have a place at what is likely to be a very popular gathering. Bookings will open soon.

As we experience an increase in interest in the outdoors through structured high volume participation activity such as the UK Three Peaks Challenge or National Citizens Service, there is inevitably a need to consider the impact on the environment that the activity takes place in.  The latest version of this debate has been launched by the National Trust (as a significant land owner) through their pilot using 21 ‘sites’ in England to develop a new approach to ‘Outdoor Activity Licenses’.  The good news is that locally a lot of good dialogue and resultant practice already exists between providers and the Trust.  Representatives of the Trust, IOL and the AHOEC held an initial teleconference last week where we agreed that we would meet further during the coming months to develop best practice guidance for activity/event providers and the National Trust to help inform the national roll out for 2017.
During the meeting we sought further clarity about the scope of the pilot project.  The NT is committed to the following objectives, which the IOL and AHOEC support in principle:

  • Minimise damage to NT places from increased access
  • Prevent clashes of events on the same site   
  • Control the impact on local communities   
  • Check insurance cover and risk assessments/mitigation
  • Create a link to the NT cause with event/activity participants
  • Raise donations to support conservation

The NT confirmed that there are exclusions from the Outdoor Activity Licence for Scout and Guide Groups, Duke of Edinburgh events and School/ Education Groups with Education Group Membership, but commercial providers, whether that is for group activities, events, sponsored walks, commercial dog walkers, etc., would be required to enter into a license.  Feedback on the pilot process and the delivery on the ground will be gathered over the coming months from these local properties to inform the review in June. There will be a local focus to the pilot areas, so if you use these areas or properties then please get involved.  
Expect more communication and opportunity to engage with the pilot’s consultation activity in coming months.

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The Institute for Outdoor Learning supports practitioners and providers of Outdoor Learning. Our mission is to increase participation in outdoor learning in the UK and to recognise and improve the quality of outdoor learning in the UK. - See more at:
The Institute for Outdoor Learning supports practitioners and providers of Outdoor Learning. Our mission is to increase participation in outdoor learning in the UK and to recognise and improve the quality of outdoor learning in the UK. - See more at:
The Institute for Outdoor Learning supports individuals and organisations who use the outdoors to make a difference for others.

Our mission is to increase participation in Outdoor Learning in the UK and to recognise and improve the quality of Outdoor Learning in the UK.

By representing and lobbying on behalf of our members, both organisational and individuals, and the outdoor education and recreation sector we can help ensure the development and progression of outdoor learning.

IOL supports your work and career whether you are a professional outdoor practitioner, field study officer, instructor, teacher, youth worker, outdoor leader, management development trainer, student or anyone involved in learning outdoors.

Whether you enjoy recreation, expeditions, bushcraft, adventure, therapy, teaching or learning in the mountains, hills or wilderness, on water or land, in rural or urban areas, there will be benefits to you to visit this site or to become an active member. IOL Membership offers you the opportunity to widen your horizons of influence and networks, develop your outdoor career and gain access to deals on outdoor learning publications, gear, training and more.

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