Outdoor Recreation NI Urban Green Spaces


Outdoor Recreation NI

ORNI are a not-for-profit organisation who make it easier for people to responsibly enjoy the outdoors. Their vision is ‘a more active and healthy society appreciating the outdoors.’

ORNI have undertaken a number of projects in Urban Green Spaces, some examples are provided below.

Cave Hill Country Park – Mountain Bike Trail Pilot

The popular Cave Hill Country Park is located in north Belfast, owned and managed by Belfast City Council, it includes many natural and historical features including McArt’s Fort and Belfast Castle. The site offers a range of outdoor recreation opportunities including walking, orienteering and Ecotrails.

The Council formed a formal partnership with Cavehill Mountain Bike Club to establish a two-year pilot to test an approach regarding the management, inspection and maintenance of natural mountain bike trails within the site. The pilot specifically relates to the c.600m ‘Middle’ trail which opened in October 2022.

Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland was commissioned by the Council to facilitate to development of the pilot which included the development of a Memorandum of Understanding, trail management plan and an evaluation framework to measure the success of the pilot.

The project provides an excellent example of how local authorities can work with local communities to play a significant role in the design, delivery and management of urban green spaces.



Ballynahinch Rugby Family Trail

As part of a service level agreement with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland (ORNI) has been delivering a district wide community trail programme to connect people form their ‘doorsteps’ to their local green spaces and / or neighboring communities.

The Ballynahinch Rugby Club was identified as a key local hub in which a community trail would complement other existing community activity. Working with the local community, rugby club, Sport NI and Council, the 1.3km Ballynahinch Rugby Family Trail or ‘Hinch Trail’ was launched in 2019 on the grounds of Ballymacran Park, the home of Ballynahinch RFC. The trail attracts on average 18,000 visits each year. This number is equal to 600 rugby matches!

An Impact Survey looked at the positive outcomes experienced by trail users across physical health, wellbeing, environmental and learning benefits. It found that:

  • 68% of users have better health/fitness since the trail opened;
  • 78% of users strongly agreed the trail gave them mental health and wellbeing benefits;
  • 46% strongly agreed that the trail made them feel closer to nature
  • 20% strongly agreed that they learnt about nature of their local heritage

Using the data, a Social Return on Investment (SROI) assessment was undertaken. It estimated that the total social value generated over the lifespan (25 years) of Ballynahinch Rugby Family Trail will be £1,312,900 across physical health, wellbeing, environmental and learning benefits. This means that for every £1 spent to create the trail, it will generate £16 in return.

To find out more, visit https://www.outdoorrecreationni.com/case-study/ballynahinch-rugby-family-trail/


Get Wet

Many of Northern Irelands Urban areas are associated with rivers, lakes or coast and so can benefit from use of these urban blue spaces.  Get Wet NI is a marketing campaign to encourage sustained local participation and to raise awareness of the water based recreation activities in Northern Ireland.

The format of the campaign is a series of water based outdoor recreation taster events held over late spring and summer at a reduced or free cost. These sessions, run by clubs affiliated with SportNI and recognised National Governing Bodies (NGBs) aspire to engage people who may never have been exposed to water sports previously.

Some of the campaign objectives include:

  • Raising awareness of water-based recreation opportunities in NI
  • Increase sustainable participation in water based outdoor recreation amongst Sport NI’s targeted groups (ethnic minorities, women and girls, older people and people with disabilities)
  • Increase the profile of NGBs and their clubs

In 2021, 672 participants took part in events which included angling, rowing, sailing and others.


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