This course will give you the confidence, practical 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 and stakeholder engagement can be catalysed and supported through outdoor programmes.

It offers theoretical frameworks supported by extensive research, deep personal experiences and a 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.

This 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 sustainability and leadership, 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 psychology and ecology. A careful sequence of outdoor activities and practices build into a 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 course runs over 12 months. There are four, one-to-one tutorials and four, 90 minute group webinars online. These are scheduled around two, six-day residentials.

Session 1: One-to-one online tutorial (1 hr)

Session 2: Group online webinar (1.5 hrs)

Session 3: First Residential (6-days)

Session 4: One-to-one online tutorial (1 hr)

Session 5: Group online webinar (1.5 hrs)

Session 6: Group online webinar (1.5 hrs)

Session 7: Second Residential (6-days)

Session 8: One-to-one online tutorial (1 hr)

Session 9: Group online webinar (1.5 hrs)

Session 10: One-to-one online tutorial (1 hr)

The course includes 110 hours of total contact time on a maximum 1:10 ratio including,

  • 12 days and 14 nights of catered accommodation;
  • six hours of live online group webinars, recorded to watch-again;
  • three hours of online one-to-one tutorials;
  • access to a private online library of over 500 PDF downloads;
  • a comprehensive online Course Guide;
  • access to a private email group;
  • CPD certification and;
  • email support.

If you have access to professional practice opportunities, these can be integrated into your learning process. If you are yet to start practicing, then advice about gaining experience is offered.

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.


Tongariro National Park, Central North Island, New Zealand.

Nearest airport: Taupo. Nearest Rail link: National Park. Nearest bus station: Turangi.


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.


The course fee can be paid monthly over one year.

Includes: Up to 120 hours of total contact time on a maximum 1:10 ratio, including 12 days and 14 nights of catered accommodation; six hours of live online group webinars, recorded to watch-again; three hours of one-to-one online tutorials; access to a private online library of over 500 PDF downloads; a comprehensive online Course Guide; access to a private email group; CPD certification and email support.

Excludes: Travel two and from the venue; personal outdoor equipment and clothing and; travel insurance.

Dates:This course runs on demand. Please register your interest below.
Location:Aotearoa New Zealand.
Duration:One Year
Format:Two, six-day residentials plus four one-to-one tutorials and four, 90 minute group webinars online.
Contact time:120 hours
Approx. reading time:30 hours
Certification:A Continuing Professional Development Certificate for 150 hours can be issue upon course completion.

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.

Richard Profit

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

Peter Wooding
Organisation:Venture Scotland

Dave has helped me to reach a deep resolve in my choices for the direction of my life and the work that I wish to do in the world.

Charlie Németh
Organisation:Teacher, Hungary

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.

Charlie Németh
Organisation:Teacher, Hungary

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.

John Daffurn
Organisation:Scottish College for Educational Leadership

I am pleased that I decided to do this course with David. I got a lot out of the experience. I appreciated the open and flexible style of our sessions, and enjoyed the diversity of our valuable discussions.

David made me feel seen, heard, and supported throughout the journey. He is a true wealth of knowledge – and customised the course to meet my personal interests, by providing plenty of useful study resources.

Danielle Levy

A considerate, generous, and passionate coach – I am thankful to have had the opportunity to work with David!

Danielle Levy

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.

Emily Peel Yates
Organisation:Halcrow Group

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.

Tom Deacon
Organisation:Field Studies Council

David has a brilliant way of guiding you on exactly the paths you want to traverse. He was able to help me follow my questions to new and interesting resources to learn from.

I work to connect children to nature in India and his course has helped me build language and structure around my work in order to better communicate with others around me.

I have also greatly benefited from his library. The resources available there would be very hard for me to find elsewhere.

Janani Eswar
Organisation:GRIN (Growing in Nature)

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

Jim Riach,
Organisation:Keep Scotland Beautiful

Dave’s course was the beginning of my journey with this incredible work.

I learned a lot about myself, and this has ultimately meant I can work with other people with a much deeper understanding of change processes. I loved that the course was self governed – for me this meant I could go on my own exploration, and pull on the threads that interested me.

Dave is very attentive and flexible toward personal needs, it is less ‘teacher-student’ focused and more collaborative and supportive, which I feel is exactly what is needed in this world.

I would do the course again and again.

Janine Finlay
Organisation:Fin Films Ltd UK & The Good Nature Project

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

Gavin McLellan
Organisation:Christian Aid

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.

Inga Page
Organisation:Schumacher College

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.

Cormac Cullinan
Organisation:Cullinan & Associates

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.

Louise Macdonald OBE

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

Gill Troup
Organisation:University of the West of Scotland

When I contacted David, I had no idea where my interests would lead me! I loved his non-prescriptive approach, the flexibility and openness which allowed me to explore so many different strands of this fascinating topic.

I thoroughly enjoyed our sessions and found David to be an inspirational, enthusiastic and sensitive coach who focused on helping me identify my particular areas of interest and feeding my curiosity. I have only scratched the surface and I hope some day to expand my knowledge further and apply it even more to my work.

When that time comes, I know who to turn to.

Julie Gilbert-Binns

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.

Deborah Richardson-Web
Organisation:Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

I heartily recommend David’s work to anyone wishing to deepen their understanding and experience within the broad purview of ecotherapy. The bespoke nature and pacing of the work, together with David’s extensive experience, strong companionship and challenge gives a blend of embodied practice with imagination and study, making for a profound synthesis and optimal conditions for deep change.

For me it was a tremendous vessel in which to simmer and steep, one that promoted the risky business of leaping, that served encountering the nobly camouflaged layers of self and led me to “be able to stand in the wreckage of what used to be (my) certainty” and have that be a flourishing of wild and previously unseen truths.

I recommend David, the man and his work, to anyone with heart enough to commit and head enough to set the compass.

Keith Hackwood
Organisation:Synthesis Wales

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.

Osbert Lancaster
Organisation:Natural Change Limited

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.

Karen Liebenguth
Organisation:Greenspace Life Coaching

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

Margret Mennenga

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.

Marc Forrester
Organisation:YouthLink Scotland

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.

Brenna Nyznik
Organisation:Mercy Corp

I discovered Dave’s work when I was managing the film output for the World Wildlife Fund in the UK where he had been consulting on Natural Change. Nature Psychology seemed to me to be the solution to get us out of this natural mess – by turning toward environmental destruction, and building relationship with it, we start to move into recovery – what a radical and beautifully simple idea!

Dave’s course in ecopsychology was the beginning of my journey with this incredible work and I chose to make it almost entirely experiential – carrying out practices in nature that Dave ‘prescribed’. I learned a lot about myself, and this has ultimately meant I can deliver the material to other people with an understanding of how it really works.

I loved that the course was self governed – for me this meant I could go on my own exploration, and pull on the threads that interested me. It’s an excellent foundation, Dave is very attentive and flexible toward personal needs, it is less ‘teacher-student’ focused and more colloborative and supportive, which I I feel is exactly what is needed in this world. I would do the course again and again.

Janine Finlay
Organisation:Fin Films Ltd UK & The Good Nature Project

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”!

Louise Macdonald OBE

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.

Gill Troup
Organisation:University of the West of Scotland

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.

Dan Ryan
Organisation:Eden Project

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.

Steve Malkin
Organisation:Planet First