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Forestry Statistics 2017 - Recreation

Visits to woodland - on-site surveys

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On site surveys - Scotland All Forests surveys

All Forests surveying in Scotland has been undertaken on two occasions. The first All Forests Survey in Scotland was carried out across a three-year period from June 2004 to June 2007, with over 5,000 hours of fieldwork undertaken over 1,158 days, achieving almost 2,700 face to face interviews. The study estimated that around 8.2 million visits are made annually to Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) woodland. An estimated 150-200 thousand visits to events in forests and around 300 thousand visits during the hours of darkness (when fieldwork was not undertaken) were also made, giving an overall total of around 8.7 million visits per year.

The second All Forests Survey was carried out from November 2012 to October 2013.  The survey made greater use of data from automatic counters, but also achieved over 400 days of fieldwork and 1,970 face-to-face interviews.

The 2012-13 survey estimated an annual total of 9.1 million visits (including visits to events and in the hours of darkness) to Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) woodland. This represents a 5% increase on the estimated overall total of 8.7 million visits from the 2004-2007 survey.

Table 6.7 provides a summary of the key characteristics and results obtained from the Scotland All Forests surveys and appears to show some change in visit characteristics over time, with a general trend towards longer, more distant and less frequent visits. From the 2012-13 survey, around two thirds of visitors to Forestry Commission Scotland woodlands were on a day trip from home. Walking (with or without a dog) was the main activity undertaken by around three quarters of visitors. Over four fifths travelled to the site by car or van and around one third travelled more than 15 miles to get to the site. Around one third of visitors were on short trips, spending one hour or less in the forest. Around one half of respondents visited the site at least monthly.

Table 6.7 Woodland visit characteristics - Scotland All Forests Survey

Woodland visit characteristics



per cent of respondents

Type of trip



     Day trip



     Overnight trip



Main activity during visit



     Dog walking

50 43

     Other walking

29 29


11 8

Main transport


     Car / van

78 85


18 11


2 2

Distance travelled (one way)


     Less than 6 miles

58 43

     6 to 15 miles

19 25

     16 to 25 miles

10 12

     Over 25 miles

12 20

Duration of visit (time spent in forest)


     Up to 1 hour

59 35

     Over 1 hour, up to 2 hours



     Over 2 hours, up to 3 hours

10 16

     Over 3 hours

7 13

Frequency of visit to site of interview


     More than once a day

7 3

     Once a day

13 9

     1 to 3 times per week

25 22

     1 to 3 times per month

17 14

     1 to 3 times per year

17 18

     Less often

5 7

     First ever visit

16 27

Source: Scotland All Forests Survey 2004-2007 and All Forests Survey 2, carried out by TNS.

These figures are outside the scope of National Statistics

Links to Forestry Statistics 2017