Visits to woodlands in decline

Survey shows visitors down from 75 per cent of respondents in 2009 to just 56 per cent in 2015.

Woodlands: significant decrease in share of population visiting sites since commission's previous survey (credit:Su May)
Woodlands: significant decrease in share of population visiting sites since commission's previous survey (credit:Su May)

There has been a "significant decrease" in the share of the population visiting forests or woodlands over recent years, according research by the Forestry Commission.

Only 56 per cent of respondents to its Public Opinion of Forestry survey this year said they had made such visits "in the last few years", compared with two-thirds in 2011 and 2013 and more than three-quarters in 2007 and 2009.

Of those who had not visited, one-third "were not interested". Lack of time was the second most common reason. Distance, not having a car and bad weather were also cited. Among those who had visited woodlands, lack of time was the most widely given reason for not visiting more often.

Visits to woodlands in the countryside have fallen over recent years, while visits to woodlands in and around towns have increased. While one-third of respondents were unable to name the owner of the wood they had visited most recently, 22 per cent said it belonged to the National Trust, 17 per cent said local authority, 16 per cent Forestry Commission, three per cent Woodland Trust and two per cent said community-owned.

Only eight per cent were National Trust members, while just one per cent held a Forestry Commission England Discovery Pass. The commission has conducted biennial surveys of public attitudes since 1995.

Commission's findings - Positive opinions of woodland sites

Respondents may be visiting woodlands less often but they still have positive views on them:

- 89 per cent agreed "they are places where people can have fun and enjoy themselves".

- 88 per cent said they are important for wildlife.

- 83 per cent said they make areas nicer places to live.

However, all these figures have declined since the late 2000s, which appears to have marked a peak in public awareness and involvement in public woodland.

Involvement in voluntary tree-related work also shows a decline since that time, along with a belief that more trees should be planted.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

IoG Saltex 2016 - show preview

IoG Saltex 2016 - show preview

This year's Saltex will be looking to build on the success of last year by packing in a multitude of exhibitors and sessions over the two days, Sally Drury reports.

Tree lifting, moving  and planting

Tree lifting, moving and planting

Successful relocations can see even big trees flourish while costing less than buying new stock, says Sally Drury.

Pest & Disease Management - Caterpillars

Pest & Disease Management - Caterpillars

Control strategies mainly focus on larval stages.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Arboriculture Contracts & Tenders

Jeremy Barrell On...

Jeremy Barrell

Tree consultant Jeremy Barrell reflects on the big issues in arboriculture.