Enjoy a healthy and safe visit to the outdoors this weekend

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Summer has arrived and as many thousands of people venture into the outdoors to enjoy our beautiful beaches, forests, parks, mountains and lakes around the country, Leave No Trace Ireland are encouraging everyone to enjoy our outdoors responsibly during the COVID 19 Pandemic.

Outdoor recreation plays an important role in supporting the physical and mental wellbeing of society and people are encouraged to enjoy the outdoors while adhering to Government protocols and public health guidelines.

One significant change  in recent restrictions means that people can exercise using outdoor public amenities – where social distancing can be maintained and where there is no contact with other people. Agencies and organisations across the island of Ireland are advising members of the public to stay local, follow Government protocols and public health guidelines and observe physical distancing.

Maura Lyons, CEO with Leave No Trace Ireland, a charity promoting responsible outdoor recreation in Ireland says “We should all enjoy and celebrate our scenic countryside and the many activities we can do in the outdoors but we should also try to minimise any negative environmental impacts we may be creating, by planning our trips a little better and adhering to a few simple outdoor messages during COVID 19”

With great weather, people love to picnic, barbeque and party in the outdoors. To ensure safe and pleasant experiences for everyone and avoid any risk of wild fires, people are encouraged to prepare for their visits to the outdoors, eat in designated sites and avoid the lighting of fires outside designated sites. People are also encouraged to always take their rubbish home as nobody wishes to see rubbish left behind in scenic areas.

Many people love to take their pet dogs into the outdoors and while this is certainly fun for the dog, it can create some problems for other recreation users and local farmers. If planning on taking your dog into the outdoors, people are encouraged to keep their pets under effective control at all times and to avoid agricultural areas, especially where sheep or cattle are grazing.

Car parking can be a real issue in many areas with so many people driving into the countryside to visit scenic spots. This is a real problem, not only for visitors but for our farming communities as it’s a busy time of year on all farms. To avoid parking problems, people are encouraged to park in designated car park areas where possible, avoid blocking roads and access points to farmland and agricultural lanes.

Finally, summer time is a busy time in nature, with lots of breeding birds and animals active and our wild flowers in full bloom. We should celebrate and enjoy nature and wildlife but we should always do so quietly, taking only photos and leaving only footprints!

For information on COVID 19 guidelines on responsible outdoor recreation for Northern Ireland; please read here; https://www.leavenotraceireland.org/enjoy-a-healthy-and-safe-visit-to-our-outdoors/

For information on COVID 19 guidelines on responsible outdoor recreation for the Republic of Ireland; please read here; https://www.leavenotraceireland.org/stay-local-stay-apart-stay-safe-in-the-outdoors/

More information on responsible outdoor recreation and Leave No Trace Ireland education programme is available on www.leavenotraceireland.org

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