As a well-known local farmer, Rory Best OBE, is adding his voice to the 2022 ‘Right Side of Outside’ campaign, urging the public to respect the outdoor spaces used for agricultural purposes and the animals that call it their home.
Following the success of its ‘Right Side of Outside’ campaign last year, OutmoreNI is delighted to add Rory’s support to its messages reaffirming that key issues in the outdoors such as livestock worrying, disturbance of wildlife, wild fires, irresponsible car parking, litter and dog waste still need to be acknowledged.
“I am thrilled to be part of this campaign and to use my lived experience farming to highlight the impact caused by those who aren’t mindful of the outdoor spaces they are exploring.” says Rory.
“As we enter the new season, more cattle will be born and the work on our farms will naturally increase. So, to have a car blocking an entrance or a dog off a leash scaring new born lambs can cause great distress within the farming community. As farmers we love the outdoors and are keen to promote its beauty and ability to provide an escape to many; but we must educate the public on the simple steps they can take to help protect the outdoors and our livelihoods.”
Northern Ireland’s outdoors has experienced an unprecedented growth in visitor numbers since the pandemic began. Whilst this growth is welcomed, it has generated significant issues in terms of a lack of responsible use of the outdoors. Issues include visitors parking their cars and blocking access, dogs worrying livestock and disturbing wildlife, wild fires, people being ill prepared and needing rescued, litter and dog waste being left behind 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.
Chair of Outdoor Recreation NI, the organisation behind the campaign, Dawson Stelfox MBE says: “Our campaign last year had a significant impact by spreading awareness around the key issues we have been tackling.
"Whilst we are always keen to promote the outdoors and encourage more people to explore the beauty of Northern Ireland, we also want to educate on how simple things such as picking up after your dog, parking your car in a designated space to avoid blocking access and being more mindful of those that use the areas for farming, can have a huge impact on protecting these areas for the wildlife that call it home and the future generations that are yet to experience it.
“As we approach the spring and summer months, we are keen to reiterate these key messages to promote responsible behaviour in the outdoors and more specifically in rural areas and open countryside where it is harder to regulate user behaviour. To have Rory involved adds great weight to our voice.”
In 2021, the National Farmers Union announced that 73% of dog owners are now letting their pets roam free when visiting the outdoors, which can be extremely disturbing during the lambing season because it can cause great distress, injury, or loss of produce. Additionally, there has been a staggering 341% increase in stand-up paddle boarding rescues and a 200% increase in open water swimming rescues due to people not understanding how to prepare for the environment they are going to visit.
Dawson adds: “It is clear the love for the outdoors has grown which is fantastic to see. But we want to ensure the outdoors remains a safe space for everyone, public and animals alike. Together we need to share the outdoors in a respectful way and understand that the outdoors is a living space. Being more mindful and aware of the small steps to outdoor harmony will have a lasting positive impact.”