Conference paper

Accessibility and inclusive nature for everyone? A case study of outdoor recreation in Östersund, Sweden


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Publication Details

Author list: Ankre, Rosemarie;Wall-Reinius, Sandra

Publication year: 2019


In Sweden, outdoor recreation is well established and traditionally considered to create good health with positive effects on physical and mental health (Fredman et al., 2014). The interests of outdoor recreation is hence part of the whole Swedish society, for example, in the government bill the Future Outdoor Recreation (2009/10: 238) it is described that the conditions for a so-called ""good outdoor recreation"" can be created by the State through spatial planning, accessibility, information and protected nature areas. However, accessibility for outdoor recreation relate to both physical, mental and socio-economic conditions (Emmelin et al., 2010). In Östersund municipality in northern Sweden, it is an on-going work to introduce more health-promoting activities as well as measures and rehabilitation for people with injuries and disabilities. Östersund municipality has developed a ""Program for outdoor recreation"" with the aim to create accessible outdoor recreation for all its residents. Previous studies have shown that lack of accessibility limits participation in tourism and outdoor activities for people with disabilities and destinations do little to identify and accommodate the specific demands and preferences of people with disabilities. Studies also show that planners are asking for more local investigations as to where, how and why outdoor recreation is practiced (see e.g. Petersson Forsberg, 2012; Ankre, 2019).

The presentation will focus on a newly started project with the aim to increase knowledge of some of the challenges in Östersund regarding accessibility, lifestyle and physical activities. In addition, how accessibility and social inclusion can be further supported and developed in the local community are of interest. The project includes a mapping of accessible nature areas within the municipality, an investigation of needs and wishes among citizens with disabilities, and interviews with public and private stakeholders on their view on how to increase participation in outdoor activities. Preliminary results from focus group interviews and fieldwork will be presented. The focus group contains a before-during-and-after perspective. Firstly, the group meets indoors (to talk about, for example previous experiences and the importance of accurate information about the sites), followed by an excursion to a nature area in Östersund municipality, and finally a follow-up group meeting indoors. Of interest are how people with disabilities experience visits to different nature areas in the Östersund municipality, what kinds of obstacles there are when visiting nature areas, and how these areas may be improved.

Accessibility also relates to the on-going densification in urban areas as a prevailing planning ideology. There is a general notion that there is so much green and that outdoor recreation can take place “elsewhere”. Even if this may be true, it can also lead to the exploitation of accessible urban and urban-close nature that is important for people’s everyday recreation. What kind of outdoor recreation one is practicing in Östersund and where and why was examined in the autumn of 2016 in a web survey directed at 3,000 randomly selected local residents. The results with a critical discussion of accessibility have recently been published (Ankre & Petersson Forsberg, 2019) which will create additional material in this study. We will also end with a discussion on ethical and methodological considerations.


Ankre, R. (2019). Friluftslivkonflikter i svenska kustlandskap ur ett planerings- och användarperspektiv. Studier av Luleå och Blekinge skärgårdar. Doctoral thesis. Karlskrona, Blekinge Institute of Technology.

Ankre, R. & Petersson Forsberg, L. (2019). Förtätning och gröna kilar - konsekvenser för friluftslivet in Samhällsplaneringens teori och praktik. Stockholm, Liber. pp. 197-206.

Emmelin, L., Fredman, P., Lisberg Jensen, E. & Sandell, K. (2010). Planera för friluftsliv. Natur, Samhälle, Upplevelser. Stockholm, Carlsson Bokförlag.

Fredman, P., Sandell, K., Stenseke, M. & Emmelin, L. (2014). Friluftsliv i förändring. Studier från svenska upplevelselandskap. Editors P. Fredman, M. Stenseke and K. Sandell. Stockholm, Carlsson Bokförlag.

Government Bill [Regeringens proposition] 2009/10:238. The Future Outdoor Recreation [Framtidens friluftsliv]. Stockholm, Ministry of the Environment.

Petersson Forsberg, L. (2012). Friluftsliv och naturturism i kommunal fysisk planering. Doctoral thesis. Karlskrona, Blekinge Institute of Technology.


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