This research project will gather evidence to better understand, enable and support public access to woodlands. The England Tree Action Plan incorporates an action to ensure that the provision of safe public access is a feature of as many woodlands as possible. The forthcoming Woodland Access Implementation Plan also sets out ambitions to support public access. There are currently evidence gaps in terms of meeting the actions in these plans and this research will contribute directly to addressing these. Evidence outlines that public access to woodlands is important for people’s health and wellbeing and helps connect people to the natural environment. It can also contribute to people valuing trees and woodlands, which can sometime lead to people acting for nature through, for example, getting involved in volunteering activities.
We have three key work packages (WP) and through these we will:
The research project will last for two and half years and will end in March 2025.
We are currently carrying out literature reviews. One is aimed at understanding the barriers that prevent different groups within society from accessing woodlands and exploring interventions that have enabled and encouraged access. Another review is exploring land managers’ attitudes to public access and any support or incentives that might encourage them to allow access by the public to their woodland. We are also designing a survey for land managers and questions for interviewing members of the public. Furthermore, we are currently bringing together different spatial dataset on which woodlands have public access.
Forest Research is leading this research project and working in collaboration with the Sylva Foundation
How do contemporary Great British attitudes to urban trees vary between locality, individuals and communities with different socio-demographic backgrounds? Forest Research aims to investigate this through a rapid evidence review, a national questionnaire and a series of focus groups.