No access to local woods for 85% of population

Only 15.6% of the population can visit a wood of reasonable size within a short walk of their homes, reveals the latest analysis of public access to woodland in the UK which is set out in our latest Space for People report.

Sian Atkinson, Conservation Team Leader

Our Conservation Team Leader, Sian Atkinson, talks about the results in a podcast for our friends at ePolitix today. 

We have long promoted opening up more woods to public access and the creation of woodland close to where people live. ‘Space for People’ checks each local authority area in the UK against our Woodland Access Standard which is the minimum we believe is required.  This says that:

  • no person should live more than 500m from at least one area of accessible woodland of no less than 2ha in size; and 
  • there should also be at least one area of accessible woodland of no less than 20ha within 4km (8km round-trip) of people’s homes

Data is collected annually by the Trust and was last analysed five years ago. We are very pleased to see that woodland access has improved to some extent since then, although there is still a long way to go to achieve our vision of quality woodland access for all.  The report identifies the steps needed, and the amount of new woodland required to remedy this low figure.  We want to see a doubling of native woodland cover over the next 50 years and are calling on Government to put the right policies and grants in place to encourage creation of new accessible woodland.  There is evidence is that access to woodland can make people healthier and happier and of course, woods are also great for wildlife.  At the same time, woods close to communities can bring a range of other benefits – from flood control to cooling in urban areas. 

Listen to Sian’s podcast on ePolitix to find out more – and please do share your views about our ambitions and what this research shows, below.

About Kaye Brennan

Senior Campaigner (Policy & Advocacy) for the Woodland Trust and Administrator, 'Woodland Matters' blog
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