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Scotland All Forests surveys

All Forests surveying in Scotland has been undertaken on two occasions. The first All Forests Survey in Scotland was carried out across a three-year period from June 2004 to June 2007, with over 5,000 hours of fieldwork undertaken over 1,158 days, achieving almost 2,700 face to face interviews. The study estimated that around 8.2 million visits are made annually to Forestry and Land Scotland woodland. An estimated 150-200 thousand visits to events in forests and around 300 thousand visits during the hours of darkness (when fieldwork was not undertaken) were also made, giving an overall total of around 8.7 million visits per year.

The second All Forests Survey was carried out from November 2012 to October 2013.  The survey made greater use of data from automatic counters, but also achieved over 400 days of fieldwork and 1,970 face-to-face interviews.

The 2012-13 survey estimated an annual total of 9.1 million visits (including visits to events and in the hours of darkness) to Forestry and Land Scotland woodland. This represents a 5% increase on the estimated overall total of 8.7 million visits from the 2004-2007 survey.

The estimated number of visits has been updated using data from 224 automatic counters at 165 sites.  For sites without counters, estimates have been produced using the results from the 2012-13 All Forests Survey and advice from local managers.  This gives an overall estimate of 10.2 million visits to Forestry and Land Scotland woodland in 2016, a 12% increase from 2012-13.

Table 6.6 provides a summary of the key characteristics and results obtained from the Scotland All Forests surveys and appears to show some change in visit characteristics over time, with a general trend towards longer, more distant and less frequent visits. From the 2012-13 survey, around two thirds of visitors to Forestry and Land Scotland woodlands were on a day trip from home. Walking (with or without a dog) was the main activity undertaken by around three quarters of visitors. Over four fifths travelled to the site by car or van and around one third travelled more than 15 miles to get to the site. Around one third of visitors were on short trips, spending one hour or less in the forest. Around one half of respondents visited the site at least monthly.

Table 6.6 Woodland visit characteristics – Scotland All Forests Survey

Woodland visit characteristics 2004-2007 2012-13
per cent of respondents
Type of trip  
Day trip 82 67
Overnight trip 18 33
Main activity during visit    
Dog walking 50 43
Other walking 29 29
Cycling 11 8
Main transport  
Car/van 78 85
Walked 18 11
Cycled 2 2
Distance travelled (one way)  
Less than 6 miles 58 43
6 to 15 miles 19 25
16 to 25 miles 10 12
Over 25 miles 12 20
Duration of visit (time spent in forest)  
Up to 1 hour 59 35
Over 1 hour, up to 2 hours 24 36
Over 2 hours, up to 3 hours 10 16
Over 3 hours 7 13
Frequency of visit to site of interview  
More than once a day 7 3
Once a day 13 9
1 to 3 times per week 25 22
1 to 3 times per month 17 14
1 to 3 times per year 17 18
Less often 5 7
First ever visit 16 27

Source: Scotland All Forests Survey 2004-2007 and All Forests Survey 2, carried out by TNS.

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

Additional resources

Sources chapter: Social

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