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Public Opinion of Forestry – Climate change

Forest Research has conducted similar surveys of public attitudes to forestry and forestry-related issues every two years since 1995. The most recent set of separate surveys was conducted in 2019 (in Northern Ireland, Wales, and across the UK as a whole) and 2017 (in Scotland). The full results are available on our website at  www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/statistics/statistics-by-topic/public-opinion-of-forestry/.

In the UK survey in 2019, questions were asked to gauge the public’s agreement on climate change issues, including on the management of UK forests in response to the threat of climate change (Table 4.3).  Some of the public views presented below do not reflect expert opinion.

There were high levels of agreement (respondents stating that they agreed or strongly agreed) with the statements:

  • “A lot more trees should be planted”, supported by 88% of the UK public in 2019; and
  • “Different types of trees should be planted that will be more suited to future climates”, supported by 78% in 2019

Conversely, there were much lower levels of agreement with the statements:

  • “No action is needed, let nature take its course”, supported by 26% in 2019; and
  • “Trees should not be felled under any circumstances, even if they are replaced”, supported by 29%.

Table 4.3 Management of UK forests in response to the threat of climate change

  2011 2013 2015 2017 2019
percent of respondents who agree or strongly agree    
A lot more trees should be planted 90 86 80 84 88
Different types of trees should be planted that will be more suited to future climates 74 71 67 76 78
Trees should not be felled in any circumstances, even if they are replaced 21 22 25 26 29
No action is needed, let nature take its course 21 18 22 24 26

Source: UK Public Opinion of Forestry Surveys.

Notes:

1. Figures are based on all respondents: weighted totals = 2011 (2,068), 2013 (1,927), 2015 (1,804), 2017 (2,113), 2019 (2,174).

2. The range of uncertainty around any result should be no more than ±3.5% in any of the years shown.  To compare results over time, a difference of at least 5 percentage points is required to indicate that there is a significant difference.

These figures are outside the scope of National Statistics.  For further information see the Sources chapter.

Additional resources

Sources chapter: Carbon

Sources chapter: Public Opinion of Forestry

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