Exploring disabled people's perceptions and use of forest recreation facilities

What do disabled people think about recreation in woods and forests?

Holiday club on a ranger led event at Kirroughtree visitor centre. Galloway Sensory way-marker on the Mamhead sensory trail. Haldon Forest Park, Peninsula FD The Balance beam, part of an all-ability activity trail at Wistlandpound, Exmoor. Peninsula FD


Answering the challenges of the equality and diversity agenda means learning more about the expectations and needs of different woodland and forest users, including disabled groups. This study by Strathclyde Centre for Disability Research explored how disabled people used recreational facilities to make recommendations to the Forestry Commission regarding equality of access and service improvement.

Key findings

Positive attitudes and experiences in woodland:

  • Stimulates different senses
    • Relieves and helps to ‘get away from it all’
    • Outdoor challenges to extend skills and experience

Barriers to disabled people’s access:

  • Attitudes - many disabled people feel they are not ‘expected’ in the countryside
  • Lack of appropriate facilities and equipment
  • Poor provision of information in suitable formats
  • Lack of suitable transport
  • Emphasis on people with physical impairment
  • ‘Over protective’ service provision

Publications and presentations

Funders and partners

Funded by the Forestry Commission Scotland, commissioned by Forest Research and undertaken by the Strathclyde Centre for Disability Research, University of Glasgow.


This project was completed summer 2008.


Bianca Ambrose-Oji