Public preferences for forests as sites for recreation: a pan-European study

Recently published research has provided one of the first pan-European assessments of preferences for a range of forest types as sites for recreation

News from Forest Research: June 2012

Forest viewsThe survey was conducted by a team of social scientists, led by Forest Research, as part of ‘EFORWOOD’, a major EU–funded project that developed new ways to assess the sustainability of the forestry-wood chain.

The results were derived from panels of experts in landscape preference research in four contrasting regions – the UK, the Nordic region, central Europe, and Iberia – who were asked to make judgements on behalf of the visiting public.

Throughout Europe, the size of trees made the greatest contribution to the recreational value of forest stands – the bigger the trees, the greater their perceived recreational value.

The intensity of management – assessed along a continuum from ‘forest nature reserves’ to ‘woody biomass production’ – made less of a contribution, while the tree species type – i.e. whether the stand was conifer, broadleaved or mixed – was relatively unimportant.

The findings suggest that attitudes towards conifer plantations in upland UK are shaped more by the management regime and their design within the landscape rather than the tree species type. They also suggest a preference for continuous cover forestry over intensive even-aged forestry.

The data were later adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation/United Nations Economic Commission for Europe European Forest Sector Outlook Study 2011 to quantify the impacts of a range of long-term forest management scenarios on the potential recreational value of forests.

Further information can be found at the EFORWOOD project or by contacting David Edwards.

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This and other news stories can be found in the Summer 2012 issue of FR News, our online newsletter.