We’re very fortunate to have so many beautiful outdoor spots in Northern Ireland that we should be acting now to ensure they remain that way for our future generations to enjoy.
Over the last few years the amount of people using the outdoors is growing and growing, because of this it has caused some significant issues that are disrupting our natural beauty spots. Such as visitors parking their cars and blocking access, litter and dog waste being left behind, dogs worrying livestock and disturbing wildlife, wild fires, people being ill prepared and needing rescued and trash being left by wild campers.
All of the above puts a massive strain on our outdoors and for those protecting our natural landscapes that make our adventures possible.
We all want to help protect the environment, but it can seem like such a monumental task that it’s hard to know where to start. We have some tips for you! Start with simple things; litter picks organised by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful or local community groups are a great way to help. Support local farmers or volunteer with a local environmental charity. Plant native trees or wildflowers to improve biodiversity. Share videos of wildlife with Ulster Wildlife. The list is endless!
It is really important you plan ahead for your visit. Have you checked the weather forecast? Do you have the appropriate clothing, footwear and equipment such as a life jacket if going into the water? Will you need food and drink or a map and compass? Are you aware of a route out if the weather turns bad and you need to leave urgently?
Unfortunately when car parks fill, it often leads to people parking wherever they can find a space, which often ends up blocking access for emergency services, to a farmers field or even to a local house. If you can’t park in a designated space move on to another outdoor spot – there are plenty on this website for you to choose from!
Wild fires cause significant damage to wildlife and the environment and can spread quickly with little to no warning. Therefore starting an open fire in the outdoors should be avoided at all costs!
Keeping your dog on a lead means you are helping to protect the farm animals and wildlife that live there. When dogs are off their leads it could result in sheep potentially being chased, injured or killed as well as wildlife being disturbed. And for wildlife, if their natural environment is damaged or destroyed they will struggle to survive.
Some outdoor areas don’t have bins and the ones that do are often overfilled with litter already. Therefore it is best to bring an empty plastic bag with you so you can bring your litter home, including your apple peels and banana skins! Many people leave their dog poop in a bag hanging from a tree which often leads to others coming behind you doing the same. Let’s not spoil everyone’s visit and bring your dog poop home with you.
Only use BBQ’s in designated and safe areas and never leave them unattended. Also ensure they are fully extinguished and cold before disposing of their content. Camping should only take place in a designated area and don’t forget to take all of your belongings home with you after your stay.
We’ve created a video along with some help from familiar faces to help you stay on the Right Side of Outside this year. Check out our 7 Ways to Stay on the Right Side of Outside below:
If you want to find out even more, watch out for our upcoming series of blogs and infographics on our new social media channels which will give you detailed advice and guidance on how to stay on the ‘Right Side of Outside’.