"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

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    73 Citations (Scopus)


    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. © 2005 Landscape Research Group Ltd.

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


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


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