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Many of us are staycationing closer to home and it’s the perfect time to ‘Get into Nature’ and appreciate the environment on our doorstep, Environment Minister Edwin Poots has said.

The Minister made the comments following a visit to the National Trust’s Rowallane Garden in County Down today, where he encouraged everyone to engage with a digital marketing campaign called ‘Get into Nature’, spearheaded by his Department and run through MyNI.

The campaign aims to encourage people to not only enjoy nature, but also to protect it as we recover from Covid-19 and make the most of our local beauty spots – to be outdoor smart, leave no trace and love the place.

Speaking at Rowallane, Minister Poots said: “We are fortunate to enjoy some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the world right here on our own doorstep, such as these beautiful gardens and farmed landscapes in Rowallane. We know that nature and our local environment became a very important part of people’s lives during lockdown. It’s clear that exploring nature supports our mental and physical health and wellbeing as we deal with the challenges in life that we all face.

“Northern Ireland’s beauty spots such as country parks, forests, hills and beaches have enjoyed large numbers of visitors this summer and we must ensure that we don’t damage the environment with littering and other careless behaviours including lighting campfires and barbeques which can cause untold damage to our beautiful environment and farmers’ livelihoods.”

The Minister also hopes the ‘Get into Nature’ digital campaign will aid an economic and green recovery and said: “Our natural environment is our greatest asset and it gives us our food and water, and supports our economy. By protecting and enhancing our natural assets, we can promote and grow Northern Ireland as a sustainable tourist destination, creating a resilient economy and healthy environment for all, a place where we enjoy a natural environment which supports us in so many ways.

“Taking these steps will mean we can all reap the benefits of our ‘Green Recovery,’ now and in the years to come as we look towards the launch of our ‘Green Growth’ Strategy in 2021, which aims to support and encourage economic growth, whilst at the same time protect and enhance our natural assets.”

Heather McLachlan, the National Trust’s Director for Northern Ireland, took the Minister on a tour of the gardens and farm walk at Rowallane. She said: “It’s very clear just how important it is for people to have access to nature and beauty, for our health and wellbeing, and to help society to recover from these challenging times. Northern Ireland has so many wonderful places to offer, and it’s really important that everyone plays their part to look after them for the enjoyment of local people and visitors from further afield."

She added: “The autumn colours at Rowallane are stunning and always uplifting. We continue to have a pre-booking system at many National Trust places to ensure we can keep our visitors, staff and volunteers safe.”

There is lots of information on how to make the most of the outdoors this autumn and how to appreciate the environment you are visiting on www.myni.life as well as via www.discovernorthernireland.com.

Follow the ‘Get into Nature’ campaign on social media at: MyNILife on MyNI Facebook MyNI twitter MyNI Instagram