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Introduction

This chapter contains statistics on:

  • the number and profile of visits to all woodlands from household surveys; and
  • the number and profile of visits to Forestry England/ Forestry and Land Scotland/ Natural Resources Wales/ Forest Service woodlands from on-site surveys and administrative sources.

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 social tables can be accessed in spreadsheet format from the Data Downloads web page at https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/statistics/data-downloads/.

Previous editions of Forestry Statistics have also included statistics on public access to woodland in this chapter, using data from the Woodland Trust’s Woods for People and Spaces for People projects.  As no new data is available, this section has now been excluded; the latest results can be accessed from Forestry Statistics 2018 at www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/statistics/forestry-statistics/forestry-statistics-2018/recreation/public-access-to-woodland/.

Key findings

The main findings are:

  • There were an estimated 437 million visits to woodland in England in 2017-18. (Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment 2017-18).
  • There were an estimated 117 million visits to woodland in Scotland in 2017-18. (Scotland's People and Nature Survey 2017/18).
  • “Health and exercise” and “fresh air or to enjoy pleasant weather” were important reasons for visits to woodlands in Wales. (National Survey for Wales, 2016-17 and 2017-18).
  • Over three fifths (63%) of the UK population have visited woodland in the last few years. (UK Public Opinion of Forestry Survey 2019).
  • Around 532 thousand people visited Forest Service sites where a charge is made in Northern Ireland in 2018-19.

Additional resources

Sources chapter: Social

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