Nature is important to many people in the Nordic Region, and it is good for human health to be out and about in it. Outdoor activities have become increasingly popular, as has nature tourism, which places new demands on sustainability and infrastructure.
“The natural and cultural environments in the Nordic Region face new challenges. We need to work together to ensure that the environment and the outdoor industry can cope with more people and activities in the long term. An action plan can combine ambitions for sustainability, experiences and solutions from the Nordic countries and provide more outdoor opportunities for children and young people and a boost to nature conservation,” says Aron Emilsson, vice-chair of the Committee for Knowledge and Culture in the Nordic Region.
Proximity to nature is important
Outdoor life in the Nordic Region is unique due to the sheer scale of the natural areas and the various types of “right of public access”. “The link between natural and cultural heritage is important,” stresses Jorodd Asphjell, a member of the Social Democratic Group.
“The Nordic culture of outdoor activities is strong, and nature is an important free zone for people of all ages. It is important that we manage nature as a resource and look at how important it is to public health and how more groups in society can enjoy an active outdoor life.”
Research has long shown that we feel less stressed when we are out in forests and fields, and a fresh report from the European Tourism Research Institute (ETOUR) shows that outdoor life and proximity to nature are important factors when choosing where to live.
Children and young people, public health and tourism
Outdoor life spans a wide range of different themes, sectors and ministerial councils, e.g. the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), tourism, climate, children and young people, integration, public health and research. The member’s proposal that will now be considered further consists of three elements:
- the Nordic action plan for outdoor life, which includes research, organisations involved in outdoor life, tourism, the climate and integration
- research into outdoor life in the Nordic Region
- consideration of a Nordic Year of Outdoor Life.
Network of outdoor organisations shows the way
The background to the proposal is the report Nordic Outdoor Life which the Nordic outdoor organisations produced at the behest of the Nordic Council of Ministers for Fisheries, Aquaculture, Agriculture, Food and Forestry (MR-FJLS) and the Nordic Committee for Children and Young People (NORDBUK). The report was presented at the meeting of the committee in Akureyri in 2018, and the conclusions are in line with the member’s proposal from the Social Democratic Group. Further preparatory work will now be done on the proposal.