Equal access: enhancing access for disabled people to recreation opportunities, facilities and services in Scottish forests

How can the Forestry Commission help disabled people benefit more from its sites?

Visitor in electric wheelchair using the all ability Smelters Walk at Fineshade Woods, Northants FD Group with wheelchair at First falls on the Dolgoch falls trail in community woodland near Bryncrug, Tywyn, North Wales. Coed y Mynydd

Summary

In response to the Equality Act 2006 and the amended Disability Discrimination Act 2005, this project reviewed the information held by Forestry Commission staff and services about the needs of different disabled users. Accessibility audits and an assessment of training needs identified the best ways to help staff promote equal access for disabled people.

Key findings

  • High level of awareness in the sector concerning the need to promote disabled access
  • Awareness of the features of woodlands valued by disabled users, and the need to design access features appropriate to woodland surroundings
  • Go beyond physical access (e.g. gates and paths) – incorporate information and facilities which allow disabled users to take part in specific activities
  • More advice for staff on how to contact and work with disabled individuals and organisations
  • Greater appreciation of physical disability issues – staff need more input on the needs of other disability groups
  • Enhance the experience of all users – access provisions should be appropriate for the able-bodied and disabled
  • Urban site managers more knowledgeable – less understanding about the recreational requirements and possible options for improving disability in more remote areas
  • Main obstacles to providing disabled accessibility – lack of finances and staff resources, liability issues and the physical limitations of the forest site

Publications and presentations

Report - Enhancing the Forest Sector's contribution to equal access for disabled people to recreation goods, facilities and services in Scottish Forests.  Task 2. Qualitative and quantitative research with forest recreation managers to collate knowledge and skills related to disability accessibility (PDF-528K)

Guidance documents-

Accessibility and Disability: Making Woods More Accessible (PDF-859K)

Enhancing the Forest Sector's contribution to equal access for disabled people to recreation goods, facilities and services in Scottish Forests.  Task 1. Accessibility and Disability: A Guide to the Application of Disabled Access Legislation to Scotland’s Woodlands (PDF-177K).

Enhancing the Forest Sector’s contribution to equal access for disabled people to recreation goods, facilities and services in Scottish Forests: Good practice examples of access to forests or countryside (PDF-905K).

Enhancing the Forest Sector's contribution to equal access for disabled people to recreation goods, facilities and services in Scottish Forests.  Task 3.  Collation and Review of Guidance, Tools and Case Studies of Good Practice (PDF-485K).

Funders and Partners

Funded by Forestry Commission Scotland. Commissioned and managed by Forest Research.

The study was undertaken by the OPENspace research centre in Edinburgh.

Status

This project was completed spring 2007.

Contact

Bianca Ambrose-Oji