Forests for recreation and nature tourism (FORREC)


Traditionally the main function of forests in Europe has been wood production.  However, the recreation and tourism functions of forests and woodlands are becoming more important in many European countries.  In particular their benefits for economic development, health and well-being and quality of life.

There is however a lack of information on both the benefits and costs related to recreation and nature tourism.  Researchers working in this area are also disparate and from many different disciplinary backgrounds.  Much of the research on forest recreation and nature tourism been concentrated in North America.

This COST Action aimed to provide a European focus to forest recreation and tourism research to bring together existing knowledge on these activities and in particular the benefits they can deliver, but also how those benefits might be provided in a way which reduces the economic, social and environmental costs of delivery.

The work of the action was split into three working groups:

WG1 - Economic and social values and benefits of forest recreation and tourism
WG2 - Recreation and nature tourism supply and demand, including actual useage
WG3 - Recreation planning and management.

Summary of research, findings and recommendations (PDF-126K)

Research objectives

The main objectives of the COST Action were to:

  • Improve the quality of information available to policy makers and forest managers on the recreation and tourism benefits of forestry
  • Increase the cost-effectiveness of techniques for delivering recreation and tourism benefits from forestry.

These were divided into sub-objectives to:

  • Improve knowledge of the benefits to urbanised societies through access to and recreation within forests
  • Improve the understanding of the economic and social impacts of forest recreation and nature tourism in Europe, and to assess its potential as a tool for rural development
  • Improve knowledge of the patterns of supply and demand for forest recreation and nature tourism, as well as actual use patterns, within forests
  • Improve the quality of forest recreation planning, and to improve the quality of recreation site and facility design and management.

Funders and partners

EU flag
This programme was funded by the European Union - COST action E33


Traditionally the main function of forests in Europe has been wood production. Over the last few decades, in many countries, management for nature and ecological functions of forests has become an important secondary objective, sometimes surpassing wood production as the primary function. The social functions of forests, e.g. recreation, has also started to move up the political agenda in many countries in recent years.

Further details


The programme commenced in 2003 and completed in 2008.


David Edwards

EU contacts

The chair of the Management Committee is Simon Bell.

The Vice Chair of the Management Committee is Liisa Tyrvainen.