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General Visitor Surveys


Fieldwork for the "Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment" (MENE) started in March 2009, collecting information on visits to the outdoors in England. The survey is headed by Natural England with support from Defra and the Forestry Commission.  Results show an estimated 378 million trips that include a visit to woodland in 2013/14. Full information on the survey can be seen on the Natural England website.

The England Leisure Visits Survey (ELVS) 2005 included trips taken in England by respondents living in England, from February 2005 to February 2006. It was led and co-ordinated by the Countryside Agency (now Natural England) and sponsored by a consortium of agencies with an interest in recreation and tourism in England. The number of trips to woodland was estimated at 170 million from the England Leisure Visits Survey.  Further information is available on the Natural England website.


Scotland’s People and Nature Survey (SPANS), commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) with support from Forestry Commission Scotland, the national parks and Greenspace Scotland ran for the first time in 2013/14 and is expected to run every three years over a ten year period. The survey replaces the Scottish Recreation Survey, which ran annually from 2003 to 2012.   

Reports (including technical reports) for Scotland’s People and Nature Survey and for the Scottish Recreation Survey are available from the SNH website.

The latest report estimates that the Scottish population made around 90 million recreation visits in 2013/14 to woodland in Scotland. 

Visit Scotland run the Visitor Experience survey annually, which gains insight into visitor's expectations of their holiday in Scotland and what they do on it. 

The Forestry Commission joined with Highlands & Islands Enterprise in sponsoring the Highland Visitor Survey 2002-03, which provides information about visitors and their visit to the area.


A partnership of the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) and Forestry Commission Wales (FCW) both now part of Natural Resources Wales commissioned the Wales Outdoor Recreation Survey (WORS). Two surveys have been run to date:

  • The 2008 survey ran from January 2008 to January 2009;
  • The 2011 survey ran from January 2011 to January 2012.

The surveys ask residents of Wales about their use of the outdoors, places visited, including woodlands, motivations for using the outdoors, barriers to visiting the outdoors and the ‘latent demand’ for outdoor recreation.  

Results for 2011 are available at Welsh Outdoor Recreation Survey 2011 along with more detailed tables.

Headline results and data tables from the 2008 survey are available at Welsh Outdoor Recreation Survey 2008


Day Visits Surveys were carried out in 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2002-03, for a consortium of government departments and agencies interested in tourism and recreation. The surveys provided estimates of the total number of leisure day visits from home to towns, countryside and seaside in Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales). They also gave the demographic profile of visitors and attributes of the visits such as duration and distance.

Trips to woodland were identified by the surveys. The reported number of trips to woodland in GB increased from around 300 million in 1994 to around 350 million in 1998, but then fell to around 250 million in 2002-03. More details on the first three surveys are available in Forestry Statistics 2002, Tables 5.1 and 5.2.

The main results from the 2002/03 GB survey were published in June 2004, in the form of a summary leaflet and main report, available from the Natural England website. The main report contains detailed tables (on a CD-ROM), including information about woodland trips. 

Last updated: 14th June 2017