"It gets you away from everyday life": Local woodlands and community use - What makes a difference?

Catharine Ward Thompson*, Peter Aspinall, Simon Bell, Catherine Findlay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper explores who uses woodlands near their homes, why they visit, what benefits they believe they obtain and what makes the difference between them choosing to visit or not. In the research, supported by the Forestry Commission, a multi-method, user-led approach was used, based on focus groups, questionnaire surveys and on-site observation in relation to five different communities in the central belt of Scotland. The conclusions demonstrate the overriding importance of childhood woodland visits as predictors of adult patterns of use. Proximity of woodlands is important for regular woodland users and freedom from rubbish is the physical quality people care most about. The physical qualities that make a difference as to whether people visit woodlands or not include directional signs, good information boards, variety of trees and tidiness of appearance. Perceptions of woodlands differ according to age and sex but are predominantly positive across all groups sampled: most people feel at peace in a woodland.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-146
Number of pages38
JournalLandscape Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Central Scotland
  • Children
  • Community woodlands
  • Environmental perception
  • Nature
  • Open space
  • Social forestry
  • Urban woodlands


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