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6: Social

Introduction

This chapter contains statistics on the number and profile of visits to all woodlands from household surveys.

The statistics in this chapter need to be viewed in the context of broader changes in the UK population, with an increasing and ageing population.

More recently, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected visits to the outdoors. Some information on visits to forests and woodlands from the 2021 Public Opinion of Forestry surveys is provided in this release and there is further information on visits to the outdoors more generally in the following:

Geographical coverage for social 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, either by Forest Research or by other organisations. Figures for earlier years have not been revised from those previously published. For further details on revisions, see the Social 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 the social use of forests in the UK.

Previous editions of Forestry Statistics have included data on day visitors to Northern Ireland Forest Service sites where an admission charge was made. However, as charging at forest car parks was suspended for much of the year, it is not possible to provide comparable estimates for 2020-21 and this section has been dropped from the 2021 edition.

In addition, as there are have been no new estimates of visitors to Scotland’s national forest and lands (formerly known as the National Forest Estate in Scotland) (from All Forests Surveys that ran in Scotland in 2004-2007 and 2012-13, with an update to the estimated total in 2016), the section on on-site surveys has been dropped from this edition.

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

Key findings

The main findings are:

  • Around two thirds (69%) of respondents to the UK Public Opinion of Forestry Survey 2021 had visited forests or woodlands in the last few years. Of those, 36% reported an increase in the number of visits in the last 12 months.
  • Around one half (51%) of respondents to the UK Public Opinion of Forestry Survey 2021 who had visited forests or woodlands in the last few years reported an increase in their level of happiness when in forests and woodlands as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions that had been in place since March 2020
  • There were an estimated 368 million visits to woodlands in England in 2018-19.
  • Around one half (49%) of visits to woodlands in England in 2018-19 were within 2 miles.
  • “Health and exercise” and “fresh air or to enjoy pleasant weather” were important reasons for visits to woodlands in England and Wales.
  • Walking was the most common activity on visits to woodland in England.

Downloads

FS2021: Social

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Chapter 6 text in PDF format

FS2021: Social tables

0.06 MB

Chapter 6 tables in Microsoft Excel format

FS2021: Social tables

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Chapter 6 tables in OpenDocument Spreadsheet format

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