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British people think their woodlands are shrinking

An overly pessimistic view of forest cover in the United Kingdom

As reported by the Quarterly Journal of Forestry, more than 60 percent of adults queried in a new government survey in the United Kingdom believed the country’s woodlands were still shrinking, even though woodland cover in the United Kingdom has increased by more than 25 percent in the past 20 years. Only 16 percent correctly believed that forest cover was increasing, and 13 percent thought it was stable.

The United Kingdom Public Opinion of Forestry 2003, published recently by the Forestry Commission and the Northern Ireland Forest Service, assessed public attitudes to forestry and forestry-related issues in the United Kingdom. The study found that about two-thirds of adults would like to see more woodlands in their part of the country. Peace and quiet, wildlife and scenery were identified as the main factors drawing people to woodlands.

The main reasons given for supporting forestry with public money were to provide places for wildlife to live, to provide places to visit and walk in, to improve the rural landscape and to help prevent the “greenhouse effect” and global warming.

Other findings included the following.

  • Only 6 percent of adults surveyed had been consulted about plans for creating, managing or using woodlands, while 43 percent would like to be consulted in future.
  • Some 41 percent of adults surveyed were able to reach a woodland easily without using a car or other transport.
  • Almost half of those surveyed (48 percent) had seen or read about forests, woodlands or trees through television, radio or newspapers in the preceding 12 months.
    The full results of the survey are available on the Forestry Commission’s Web site:

Source: Anon. 2003. Public mistakenly think woodlands are shrinking. Quarterly Journal of Forestry, 97(3): 170-171.

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