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IOL Northern Ireland

IOL Northern Ireland Home Page

Outdoor Learning in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is a landscape crisscrossed by uplands and low mountains (Sperrin, Mourne, and the (volcanic in origin) Antrim Plateau). Arguably the most valuable landform is Lough Neagh, the largest freshwater lake in the United Kingdom and one of the largest in western Europe, and the most striking feature is the thousands of interlocking basalt columns (some reaching 12 meters high) of the Giant's Causeway world heritage site. The variety of coastal and inland habitats are home to a wide array of providers including, commercial residential centres, adventure challenge courses, educational establishments delivering bespoke outdoor courses, voluntary organisations, clubs and individual practitioners who deliver a diverse range of high quality outdoor learning opportunities.

The Institute is keen to support and represent educators, individuals and organisations providing Outdoor Learning in Northern Ireland. Get in touch with us with your views and projects.

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Outdoor Recreation (Northern Ireland): People, Nature and Health

Outdoor Recreation (Northern Ireland): People, Nature and Health

Report published March 2021

Northern Ireland 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.


Key findings

Over 2 in 3 residents of Northern Ireland visit the outdoors for leisure every week but levels of participation are lower amongst some population groups and have changed during the pandemic. More needs to be done to increase participation and access to the outdoors for these demographic groups, so that everyone can reap the benefits.

There are clear benefits from taking part in outdoor visits. If the barriers to participation and access to the outdoors can be tackled, then there are many benefits for the whole of society.


Some of the stats

70% took outdoor visits at least once a week during 2020. This may sound good...

But 37% took no visitsduring November and December

Access to trails and greenspace is a problem. 29% do not have greenspace within easy walking distance of their home


Download the full Norterhen Ireland report (7mb)

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