Information and Advisory Note Number 145 Back to menu
1.1 Scotland's woodland is important for recreation. A large wood can absorb
many people, and still offer a sense of solitude and seclusion. Many activities,
including mountain biking, orienteering, walking and picnicking, can be
accommodated without a feeling of overcrowding.
1.2 Two-fifths of Scotland's woodland is managed by Forest Enterprise, providing open public access to forests for walking, non commercial orienteering, cycling, cross country skiing, use of picnic sites, and general informal recreation. In 1998, FE and the British Horse Society signed a Concordat allowing open equestrian access to roads and tracks in all FE forests, where there is no need to regulate access (approximately 70% of FE forests in Scotland). A permit system operates in forests where there is considered to be a need to regulate use.
1.3 In March 1998, the Government reaffirmed the commitment to public access in the nation's forests and stated that forest land which is important for public access would not be sold unless an access agreement was in place.
1.4 Several elements of the Woodland Grant Scheme (WGS) help private landowners to manage their woods for public recreation.
2.1 Although the sampling sizes are too small for trends to be inferred with
data suggest that day visits to woodland settings increased between 1994 and
2.2 Forest Enterprise
2.2.1 Provision for recreation in Forest Enterprise's woodland has increased steadily. Between 1986 and 1996 the number of picnic places increased from 148 to 159, forest walks and nature trails increased from 199 to 336 and visitor centres increased from six to 12 (Scottish Office, 1998).
2.2.2 Visits to FE sites increased by 7% between 1997 and 1998. However, this masks a great variation across sites, from a 50% increase at Aros Park, to a 36% decrease at Cnoc na Dail (Pontone & Chan, 1999).
2.3 Private woodland
2.3.1 Community Woodland Contribution
This scheme was introduced in 1991 (as Community Woodland Supplement), to assist the establishment of new woodland near settlements for informal public recreation.
Some 307 schemes, covering 2,813 ha, were approved between 1991 and 2000. They were concentrated around the major conurbations (Figure 1 ), with 40% by area in Strathclyde conservancy and 26% in Perth conservancy.
2.3.2 WGS Annual Management Grant AMG, also introduced in 1991, can help owners of existing woodlands to provide access for recreation. The 'Walkers Welcome' pack, with signs advertising public access, is sent to all those with a WGS allowing access to their woods (Figure 1).
771 Walkers Welcome packs had been distributed, by the end of March 2000 (Figure 2), to the owners of woods covering a total area of 58,876 ha. The average size of woods is 78 ha, and they range from 0.2 ha to 1,508 ha (FC statistics).
Figure 2. Cumulative number of 'Walkers Welcome' schemes. Source: Forestry Commission Woodland Grant Scheme database.
2.4.1 Participation in this activity is concentrated in woodland. It is popular with schools because of the low cost of participation and relatively easy access to suitable terrain.
2.4.2 Competitions are co-ordinated by the Scottish Orienteering Association and participation varies from year to year depending on the events held in Scotland (Figure 3). Six-day international events are held every other year, increasing participation by several thousand. In 1994 the World Veterans Championships were held in Scotland. In 1999 this competition, combined with the six day international event, produced
Figure 3. Participation in orienteering events in Scotland. Source: Scottish Orienteering Association
3.1 The UK Day Visit Survey, run in 1994, 1996 and 1998, includes data on visits
to forests. The sample sizes are small, however, and cannot be used to draw
definite conclusions on trends (Greene, 1998; SCPR, 1998, 1999).
3.2 Information on provision for recreation on Forest Enterprise land is taken from the Scottish Environment Statistics (Scottish Office, 1998b).
3.3 People counters have been installed at some Forest Enterprise sites, and information is summarised in Pontone & Chan (1999).
3.4 Information on participation in orienteering events was provided by the Scottish Orienteering Association.
3.5 Data on Community Woodland Contribution and WGS Annual Management Grant was provided by the Forestry Commission.
Greene, D. (1998). Leisure Trips to the Scottish Countryside and Coast, 1994.
Scottish Natural Heritage Research Survey and Monitoring Report No. 42. Perth:
Scottish Natural Heritage.
Pontone, B. & Chan, D. (1999). Visitor Monitoring Trends Index Report. Edinburgh: Forestry Commission.
Scottish Office (1998). Scottish Environment Statistics. Edinburgh: Scottish Office.
Social and Community Planning Research (1998). UK Leisure Day Visits. Summary of the 1996 Survey Findings. London: Social and Community Planning Research.
Social and Community Planning Research (1999). UK Leisure Day Visits. Summary of the 1998 Survey Findings. London: Social and Community Planning Research.
Further detailed information on Natural Heritage Trends: Access and Recreation
can be found in Information & Advisory Note No. 142.
Figure 1. Location of 'Community Woodland Contribution' and Walkers Welcome' schemes Source: Forestry Commission Woodland Grant Scheme database.
To obtain further information about any of the issues raised in this l&A Note,
Ms Jeanette Hall (Author) or Mr Ed Mackey
Environmental Audit Group
Chief Scientist's Unit
Scottish Natural Heritage
2 Anderson Place
EDINBURGH EH6 5NP
Tel: 0131-446 2457
Fax: 0131-446 2405
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