A Government survey tells us that 317 million adults visited woodlands in England over a one year period. Less positive is that 18% of all adults questioned had visited the countryside twice or less, and 10% never, during the year. Only 9% of all woodland visits included children. It was also interesting that the vast majority of visits involved the walking of a dog.
What do these results tell us? It seems clear that the English people love visiting trees, whether in woodlands or at their local park. The low number of children getting outdoors is worrying and reminds me of the insightful vision of Richard Louv in his book Last child in the woods, and the phenomenon he diagnosed in the general public of “nature deficit disorder“. It also leaves me wondering about the likelihood of 1.37 billion fewer visits to the countryside if the English people had no dogs to walk!
According to research results released this month by Natural England, between March 2009 and February 2010:
- 2.86 billion visits to the countryside (equivalent to 69 visits for every adult in England);
- However, 18% of respondents had only visited the countryside twice or less (10% never);
- Highest number of visits were for adults aged 45-64;
- 48% of visits involved walking a dog;
- In terms of where, 48% were to the countryside and 41% to parks in urban environments.
In terms of visits connected with woodlands:
- 11% of all visits (317 million) were to woodlands or forests;
- 9% of the woodland visits were with children.