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Interaction between water based sports and their associated blue environments

Interaction between water based sports and their associated blue environments

15 / 11 / 2021

From the 8th November until the 13th of November, partners of the SEE project met in Portugal for an exchange focused on water environments. One person of every partner organisation took part in the programme. In addition, interested water sports stakeholders from Portugal and across Europe were invited to join the programme as a multiplier event.

Day one recap:

The project partners started the day with 'scene setting' listening to the video from the EU Sport Forum why sustainability matters to outdoor sports and how climate change will impact outdoor sports. Followed by the first outdoor practical session, surfing. Leonor Cruz from the environmental monitoring and interpretation centre gave a short lecture about the marine ecosystem and the 3 N2000 in and around Viana do Castelo, including the dune habitat where a project is currently running to increase biodiversity and get rid of invasive species. The surf club Viana is supporting by organising beach clean ups, tree planting and educate the school kids that are there for surf lessons.

In the afternoon, all partners went for a guided walk on the coastal eco way (Coastal Geopark of Viana do Castelo). Ricardo Carvalhido explained how the Geopark was created and the landscape shows that the sea level has changed several times in history. Some eroded rocks prove that the water was much higher than it was now.  The indoor session in the afternoon were provide by the Surf School Viana, explain the STOKE certification they recently received  and a speech by Fernando de Paiva, how he changed his life drastically and became a environmental activist and organises various litter free campaigns and clean ups.  

Day two recap:

After a very productive first day here in Portugal, the SEE Project partners started the day early with a visit to the Kayak and paddling centre in Viana. Water sports are part of the public-school curriculum here in Viana, allowing children to explore their natural environment through such sports as surfing, sailing, kayaking and rowing. Outdoor Sport allows children to develop a deeper connection with the environment, and through doing so, has the potential to nurture and educate how these children engage with the natural environment.

During the morning sessions, project partners visited various natural sites of ecological importance- a N2000 estuary, the Urban Ecological Park and the Environmental Interpretative and Monitoring centre of Viana. This was an opportunity to learn and discuss the different functions these areas in the context of leisure and nature protection.

The afternoon sessions back at the Viana Surf Centre, was focused on presentations and discussions with experts in their related fields. To begin with, we had a online presentation by Surfrider Europe about the goals of the organisation, how to operate, the advocacy work they do and the support of their local chapters. The presentation showed a good example of how outdoor sport practitioners can feel responsible for their local environment and take action.
Following on from the very informative session with Surfrider Europe, we heard from one of our partners CREPS, about how they have integrated environmental education into their nautical training courses. During this presentation very important discussions took place among the project partners. What we saw during this discussion is that outdoor sports training and environmental education are often two separate things, and are currently not well integrated in one program. CREPS are a leading example of how outdoor sports training and environmental education can be married into one curriculum. CREPS is currently including environmental learning goals / competences in their curriculum. Furthermore, the higher your level of training, the more you need to know about the ecosystem you are making use of during your activity and how to protect it or mitigate impacts. An important talking point was how we need to move on from environmental education to changed behaviour (by means of learning outcomes and assessment).

Day three recap:

During the final morning session, the WiSe scheme, UK's national training scheme for minimising disturbance to marine wildlife,  was introduced by partner organisation SportNI. The WiSe scheme was originally created for sea operators (boats) but easily to convert to outdoor sports in marine environments. SportNI showed different methods and exercises on the beach how to educate outdoor sporters and teach them how to minimize or mitigate their impact on e.g. disturbing wildlife (e.g. seals while kayaking).  Andra Croitorou (Propark Foundation, Romania) added a few pedagogical methods and exercises on how to teach  kids (and adults) about the water cycle and Mairead O' Donovan (scoil na Mara used the beach as 'natural white board' to teach all partners the 7 principles of Ocean Literacy in a simplified way.