Visits to woodland - on-site surveys
A new on-site survey methodology was developed early in 2003 to measure visitors' "Quality of Experience". Pilot surveys were conducted in 2003 at Afan Argoed and the New Forest, prior to adoption of the methodology in England in 2004 and in Wales in 2006, with six or seven surveys now being carried out per year at selected sites. Reports from these surveys are published on the Foresry Commission website when results become available.
These studies were designed to investigate what constitutes quality of experience for visitors, addressing related concepts such as motivations, expectations and the needs of different groups.
Visitors who used a particular site at least once a month were interviewed and asked to rate both the levels of importance of different aspects of woodland and forest visits and their satisfaction with the same aspects. Visitors who visited less often were interviewed for a shorter period before being given a questionnaire to take away and return regarding their levels of satisfaction.
Table 5.8 Sites of Quality of Experience surveys undertaken in England and Wales
Grizedale, Westonbirt, Whiston
Alice Holt, Cannoch Chase, The Forest of Dean
Sherwood Pines, Delamere, Hamsterley
Garwnant, Nant yr Arian
Source: Quality of experience surveys, carried out by TNS.
In addition, surveys have been conducted around community forests in Thames Chase (2004), South Yorkshire (2005), North West England (2006) and South Wales (2006). These surveys aim to identify the recreation activities undertaken by members of the local community, levels of recreational use, awareness of local open spaces, and the motivations and barriers to using Forestry Commission sites for recreation.