What stops people using woodlands for physical exercise and well-being?
Access to woodlands and greenspace is beneficial for mental and physical health and well-being. But many groups of people fail to visit and enjoy this natural environment. Forest Research interviewed people from under-represented community groups to find out what prevents them from visiting nearby woods and greenspace (four urban/peri-urban sites and one remote location on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula).
Key findings and recommendations
- Lack of knowledge: people do not know what their local woods have to offer
- Perceptions: people are put off from visiting because of a site’s poor reputation, which may not reflect reality
- Access rights: for locations further afield, people are unsure on their rights of access and do not want to go where they are not welcome
- Motivation: many people from target groups are not motivated by the idea of accessing woodlands – they lack the habit and do not expect a positive experience
- Experience matters: ‘taster’ activities can provide the motivation to repeat the experience if the activity can be fitted into everyday lives
- Physical access: access to a wood has a big impact on who uses it - if the woodland is not connected to a community by an off-road path, it is effectively inaccessible for pedestrian use
- Safety: some of the concerns for personal safety were also defined by the cultural expectations of belonging to a particular group
- Full report - New pathways for health and well-being in Scotland (PDF-1876K)
Funders and partners
Commissioned and funded by Forestry Commission Scotland.