The Forestry Commission has conducted similar surveys of public attitudes to forestry and forestry-related issues every two years since 1995. Three separate surveys were undertaken in 2017; in Scotland, Wales and across the UK as a whole. A survey for Northern Ireland was most recently carried out in 2014.
Some questions were asked in all of the surveys conducted in 2014/2017 and in the surveys undertaken in earlier years, but an increasing number are survey specific. Questions are asked on a variety of topics including, public awareness of forestry, woodland-based recreation and community involvement, woodfuel and the relationship between forestry and climate change. Tree health was introduced in the 2013/2014 surveys and continued in more recent surveys. Questions on urban trees were introduced in 2017 surveys.
Data Sources and Methodology
The survey results were obtained by placing questions in omnibus surveys run by private market research companies. The four surveys undertaken in 2014/2017 achieved representative samples of:
- 2,113 adults across the UK;
- 1,013 adults across Scotland;
- 1,035 adults across Wales;
- 994 adults across Northern Ireland.
All of the surveys use quota sampling to ensure that the sample selected is representative of the population, and results are weighted to produce estimates for the population as a whole.
Further information on the methodologies used for each survey are provided in the individual survey reports, available at www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/statistics/forestry-statistics/forestry-statistics-2017/sources/public-opinion-of-forestry/.
All results are subject to the effects of chance in sampling, so a range of uncertainty (confidence interval) is associated with results from the surveys. The confidence intervals take into account the effect of clustering, weighting and stratification in the survey designs. For questions asked to the whole UK sample in 2017 of around 2,100, the range of uncertainty around any result should be no more than ±3.2%, while for questions asked to around 1,000 respondents, the corresponding range of uncertainty should be no more than ± 4.6%.
Results from the Public Opinion of Forestry (POF) Surveys were previously released in the separate POF reports for each country. The statistics are not normally revised.
The Forestry Commission's revisions policy sets out how revisions and errors are dealt with and can be found at www.forestresearch.gov.uk/documents/4355/FCrevisions.pdf.
Reports for UK and England (using a subset of the UK data set), for Scotland and for Wales were published on 13 July 2017, along with the full sets of data tables.
A report for Northern Ireland was published on 28 August 2014, along with the full set of data tables.
Reports and data tables (including results for previous surveys) are available at www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/statistics/forestry-statistics/forestry-statistics-2017/sources/public-opinion-of-forestry/.
The next Public Opinion of Forestry surveys are expected to run in early 2019, with results available in summer 2019.