A six-day residential programme in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

This course will give you the confidence, skills and understanding to design and facilitate outdoor experiences of nature that encourage people to live sustainably.

The course will also explore how sustainability leadership can be catalysed and supported through nature-based programmes.

It offers theoretical frameworks supported by extensive research, deep personal experiences and a very pragmatic approach to programme design and facilitation.

During this course you will:

  • understand how and why outdoor experiences can encourage sustainable living and leadership;
  • make connections between personal wellbeing, social change and ecological issues;
  • experience a selection of practices and activities for yourself;
  • learn how to design your own outdoor sustainability programme;
  • discover appropriate styles and techniques for facilitating sustainability outcomes outdoors;
  • gain psychological insights into complex relationship dynamics and how they are impacted by being outdoors;
  • understand how to create ‘safe space’ and boundaries in unbounded outdoor areas;
  • see examples and case studies of outdoor programmes for sustainability;
  • explore issues around the confluence of nature, culture and indigene;
  • develop your understanding of ethics and professionalism in outdoor leadership for sustainability;
  • find strategies and techniques for self-care and supervision;
  • find where to access resources and networks;
  • Learn how to assess and manage psycho-social risk;
  • gain an overview of the issues surrounding liability and insurance;
  • have opportunities to work out your next steps towards professional practice, or towards further enriching your existing practice.

The course has been developed through over 20 years of international research, development, post-graduate teaching and hands-on professional practice.

It takes a unique approach to education for sustainability, which combines psychology with ecology and outdoor learning. The approach is process-focussed and contains virtually no "content" in a traditional sense. It recognises that the ways we behave toward the rest of nature are at their root down to our own sense of self. Of who - and what - we think we are. Not what we know.

Many of the techniques and frameworks explored on this course were used on the Natural Change Project for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) between 2008 and 2011. This resulted in some profound and far-reaching changes, including new national government policy on sustainability in Scotland - recognised by UNESCO in 2015 as making a global contribution to learning for sustainability.

Research shows that people who feel connected to nature are more likely to behave in pro-ecological ways. However, being out in nature alone does not necessarily make people feel more connected to it. Ensuring that a sense of connection occurs takes deliberate design and skilful facilitation.

This course combines outdoor learning, with nature psychology and ecology. A careful sequence of outdoor activities and practices build into deeply powerful experience of nature. Participants are left with a strong sense of connection to nature, which is translated into personal and social change through psychologically savvy facilitation techniques.

This course gives a first-hand experience of the process before taking a look at how to design and facilitation it yourself.

The actual content of the course will follow the weather, environmental conditions and the  needs of the group. An approximate format is:

Arrival (evening before)Arrive by 16.00. Dinner at 19.00
Day ONEIntroduction & orientation.

Group work.

Day TWOSolo practice.
Day THREEStories & narrative.
Day FOURProgramme design.
Day FIVEProgramme facilitation.
Day SIXProfessional practice.
Departure (morning after)Close 09.00. Depart by 10.30.

This course is for anyone interested in working with outdoor experiences to encourage sustainable lifestyles and leadership. 

This includes leadership coaches, sustainability professionals, change makers, healthcare practitioners, outdoor leaders, social workers, youth workers, rangers, conservationists and educators - as well as those interested in commissioning nature-based change programmes for sustainability and leadership.

It is recommended that you bring around five years experience in some related form of professional practice - working with groups or one-to-one, indoors or out. However, each application is considered individually, so please do ask if you’re not sure.


At a venue of your choice, or we can organise one for you.


The course starts at 16.00 on the evening prior. Please arrive by 15.00 so that you have time to settle in before starting on time.


The course finishes around 16.00 on day six. We then have dinner together and stay overnight before departure by 10.30am the next morning.

What to bring

We will be outside everyday whatever the weather!

You will need to bring the right clothing and equipment to be comfortable outdoors. It is very important that you come prepared.

A personal clothing and equipment list will be sent once your application has been processed.

Personal fitness

This course is not a test of endurance! We are committed to creating an experience accessible to a wide range of abilities. We lead the programme to meet the needs of everyone in the group, while also recognising than a little bit of a challenge can be a helpful thing. Everything we do is offered as an invitation. You will never have to do anything you don’t want to.

As a guideline, you will need to be able to carry a day pack containing your personal equipment (waterproofs, spare clothes, lunch, flask, etc.) for periods of up to four hours at a time, in a natural environment, often without formed paths. 

If you are unsure about your ability to take part for any reason, please make a note on the application form and/or contact us as soon as possible to discuss your needs.

Safety & Insurance

David Key has over 20 years experience delivering outdoor programmes world-wide. He holds National Governing Body outdoor leadership qualifications in both the United Kingdom (MTUK & BCU) and New Zealand (NZOIA).

Risk assessments are completed for every location. These are reviewed each time an activity is delivered.

You are advised to take out your own insurance for travel and belongings.

Duration:Seven-nights / six-days
Format:For groups of between 7 and 12 people
Contact time:48 hours
Approx. reading time:8 hours
Certification:A Continuing Professional Development Certificate for 56 hours can be issue upon course completion.
Price:Get in touch for a quotation ...

John Daffurn

In this beautiful peaceful setting, where you can literally hear the leaves fall, it is easy to have ‘thinking time’ and how important it is too; I can hardly believe what has come up for me today.

Organisation:Scottish College for Educational Leadership

Marc Forrester

Dave helped me realise that I am strong enough to make change in my life that will benefit me and others. The confidence is now in me to say what I think and not say what I think others want me to say.

Organisation:YouthLink Scotland

Richard Profit

The course has brought me a deeper awareness and ability to listen. This has enabled me to understand the broader impacts of my business and provided me with the skills to find different responses and action, rather than merely repeating past actions.


Sarah Munro

A newness has been thrown into the now, that will affect almost everything from this point. I find that exciting. We may be in uncharted water but that doesn’t mean we’re going down. Who knows where we could go…

Organisation:Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art

Louise Macdonald OBE

In learning that the wilderness can be such a powerful source of intense natural healing, I have a new and profound respect for the earth and our complex relationship with it. I now know that this is a new beginning.


Gavin McLellan

Dave is an outstanding facilitator with a fantastically engaging and inclusive style, great humour, insightful with deep rapport building abilities.

Organisation:Christian Aid

Karen Liebenguth

Dave is a very gifted facilitator who is able to connect people from all walks of life and to create a safe environment in which learning, practice and storytelling can happen for everyone. I came away from this course feeling enriched and with a new sense of direction for my own life and work path.

Organisation:Greenspace Life Coaching

Cormac Cullinan

I was greatly impressed by the depth of Dave’s expertise, insights and empathic connection to the landscape as he led our group of wild lawyers through the wilderness of the Knoydart Peninsula in Scotland.

Organisation:Cullinan & Associates

Tom Deacon

The course played a subtle but powerful part in deepening my commitment to a life of working for positive change. It opened windows in my thinking, and reinvigorated trust in working with intuition and metaphor that have since shaped my working path.

Organisation:Field Studies Council

Gill Troup

Hold your nose and dive in at the deep end – the course will take you to places you haven’t imagined, good and bad, and will be truly formative as an investment of your time and energy.

Organisation:University of the West of Scotland

Dan Ryan

Dave has worked with me and my team for the past few years on team dynamics, programme design, and personal coaching. He is an extraordinary trainer, though that word is a dis-service here, his wealth of experience in the broad fields of outdoor education and facilitated wild experiences is un-paralleled. His attention to detail, subject knowledge, and impeccable research means all learning experiences with him are enlightening, thought provoking, and deeply practical.

Organisation:Eden Project

Gill Troup

I am literally in a different physical and psychological space as a result of my involvement.

Organisation:University of the West of Scotland

Emily Peel Yates

Dave’s course has given me permission to silence the white noise. It has helped me to sift out what matters. It’s pretty subtle. It’s liberating.

Organisation:Halcrow Group

Brenna Nyznik

The course experience was truly incredible, and I was taken by surprise at the level of intensity and personal response to what I thought would be a challenging week, but not to the degree that occurred.

Organisation:Mercy Corp

Margret Mennenga

Don´t hesitate. Just do it! You will feel great, brave and you won´t be disappointed – I promise you.


Peter Wooding

I gained a massive amount of insight both personally and professionally. I was profoundly moved by the process. I came away refreshed and inspired.

Organisation:Venture Scotland

Jim Riach

Dave is an inspirational, calm and creative facilitator allowing all participants to feel comfortable and able to connect with the wonders of nature.

Organisation:Keep Scotland Beautiful

Deborah Richardson-Web

It feels like I’m in the process of enlarging my heart. And it’s kind of painful, but also joyous and also really crucial.

Organisation:Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Charlie Németh

The course cleared a lot of clutter from my head and allowed me to focus and determine the deeper underlying questions of my life and of my connection to Nature. Since then, I have pursued a deeper relationship and conversation with the natural world that has constantly informed my life.

Organisation:Teacher, Hungary

Steve Malkin

Approaching the beach from the cliff top I had a feeling something profound was going to take place. And when I met Dave it started happening. In just 36 hours I had the best reset I could have imagined and 36-months later I am still enjoying its effects. If you’re reading this and wondering if it’s right for you, just get in touch with Dave and see where life takes you. It helped me and I loved it.

Organisation:Planet First

Inga Page

Dave co-taught a 3-week course on Ecopsychology at Schumacher College with Mary-Jayne Rust. The course was well planned and the group gave very positive feedback of what they learned and how the process was facilitated. Dave is extremely organised and a good planner, as well as being a committed and inspiring teacher.

Organisation:Schumacher College

Louise Macdonald OBE

The course has acted as a catalyst for all kinds of ideas and actions, both personal, professional and as a group. I think the phrase might be “watch this space”!


Osbert Lancaster

Dave is an exceptional practitioner, teacher and thinker. We worked together for three years; if the right project came along, I’d have no hesitation in asking Dave to work with me.

Organisation:Natural Change Limited