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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. In recent years, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected visits to the outdoors.

Some information on visits to forests and woodlands from the Public Opinion of Forestry 2023 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.

A copy of all social tables can be accessed in spreadsheet format from the Data Downloads page.

Key findings

The main findings are:

  • Around three-quarters (74%) of respondents to the UK Public Opinion of Forestry Survey 2023 had visited forests or woodlands in the last few years. Of those, 22% 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 2023 who had visited forests or woodlands in the last few years reported an increase in their level of happiness when in forests and woodlands from before the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • There were an estimated 123 million visits to woodlands in Scotland in 2019/20.
  • There were an estimated 507 million visits to woodlands in England in 2021/22.
  • Around 63% of visits to woodlands in England in 2021/22 were within 2 miles.
  •  “For physical health and exercise” and “To get fresh air” were important reasons for visiting woodlands in both England and Wales.
  • Walking was the most common activity on visits to woodland in England.


Chapter 6 - Social

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Chapter 6 in PDF format

Chapter 6: Social


Chapter 6 data set in OpenDocument Spreadsheet format

Methodology: Chapter 6 – Social

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Methodology and data sources for Chapter 6

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