Accessible: local woodlands and national treasures that are well promoted, welcoming and open for all

Key commitments:

  • We will continue to invest available resources into high quality facilities that encourage and help visitors experience and enjoy the outdoor environment.

  • We will continue to encourage use of the National Forest Estate for health benefits and outdoor learning.

  • Through our Woods In and Around Towns (WIAT) programme we aim to provide more opportunities for more of Scotland’s people to enjoy high-quality countryside and find health, education, skills and community involvement benefits.

Key priorities:

  • We have an enviable reputation for providing high quality outdoor recreation facilities. In seven key locations, these are supplemented by visitor centres that have seen recent major reinvestment. Sustaining the spread and quality of our facilities is an ongoing challenge. Securing recreation-related income can help us sustain our facilities, including making a charge for parking at locations where we offer enhanced facilities like mountain bike trails and toilets. Understandably, this has not been universally welcomed and work continues to explain the value of our offering and increase honesty rates. Likewise, we make a charge for significant events to help offset our associated costs, and with the help of the various sports governing bodies we are seeking the acceptance of events organisers and local groups for this requirement.

  • We also need to review our recreation offering from time to time, especially facilities where usage levels are very low where we are moving to more self-guided approaches, allowing our management input to be reduced.

  • The health and safety of visitors to the National Forest Estate is paramount. We continue to work with the National Access Forum and outdoor access organisations to promote safe use of the estate, particularly where there are active management operations. We have been working with our staff and contractors to improve the way work sites are signed, and to provide practical alternative routes around dangerous operations.

  • Our Woods In and Around Towns (WIAT) programme has been a great success, most recently with a focus on the East-end of Glasgow in association with the Commonwealth Games. Funding was sourced to restore three major landfill sites and to create accessible community woodlands in their place – bringing the countryside to where people live. Our long-term commitment to sustain the quality of experience and engagement throughout our growing portfolio of WIAT woods is costly and requires our continued investment in recruiting and training our Community Rangers and WIAT Woodland Wardens. We will be working with FCS to review what further contributions we can make to the likes of the Central Scotland Green Network within our resource constraints.

  • Our direct involvement with health and outdoor learning activities has had to reduce in recent years and our focus is on facilitating use of the estate by health and learning initiatives by providing good on-site facilities, coordination and support.