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Recreation

Introduction

This chapter contains statistics on:

  • the number and profile of visits to all woodlands from household surveys;
  • the number and profile of visits to Forestry Commission/ Natural Resources Wales/ Forest Service woodlands from on-site surveys and administrative sources; and
  • public access to woodland.

Geographical coverage for recreation statistics varies. Estimates are presented at country level and, where possible, UK or GB totals are included. Further information on the data sources and methodology used to compile the figures is provided in the Sources chapter.

Most of the statistics presented in this chapter have been previously released by other organisations. The latest year figures for day visitors to Forest Service sites in Northern Ireland are published for the first time in this release. Figures for earlier years have not been revised from those previously published. For further details on revisions, see the Recreation section of the Sources chapter.

The frequency with which the estimates in this chapter are updated varies depending on the data sources used. Whilst some of the information presented is now several years old, it represents the latest available data and has been included to provide a more rounded picture of forest recreation in the UK.

Further information on the advantages and disadvantages of household surveys and of on-site surveys is provided in the Recreation section of the Sources chapter.

A copy of all recreation tables is available to download as an Excel spreadsheet from https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/statistics/data-downloads/.

Key findings

The main findings are:

  • There were an estimated 446 million visits to woodland in England in 2015-16. Walking with a dog was the most commonly reported activity, undertaken on around two thirds of visits in England. (Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment 2015-16).
  • There were an estimated 90 million visits to woodland in Scotland in 2013. 63% of the Scottish population had visited woodland in the previous 12 months. (Scotland’s People and Nature Survey 2013).
  • There were an estimated 68 million visits to woodland by Welsh residents in 2014. Walking was the main activity, undertaken on around two thirds of these visits. (Welsh Outdoor Recreation Survey 2014).
  • Around three fifths (61%) of the UK population have visited woodland in the last few years. (UK Public Opinion of Forestry Survey 2017).
  • Around 10.2 million visits were made to Forestry Commission Scotland woodlands in 2016. (All Forests Surveys).
  • Around 509 thousand people visited Forest Service sites where a charge is made in Northern Ireland in 2017-18.
  • Around one fifth (21%) of the UK population lived close to woodland (within 500 metres of a wood of 2 hectares or more) in 2016. (Space for People).

Additional resources

Sources chapter: Recreation

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