Ramblers is organising a Walk in the Woods week, from Monday 2nd to Sunday 9th October, to celebrate the special beauty of woods in Autumn. We’re encouraging Ramblers groups to put on special woodland walks during that week – which, as well as being great fun, will draw attention to how much we value our woods and forests for walking and leisure activities.
Yesterday’s “UK National Ecosystem Assessment” report made some interesting comments about the value of forests and woodland. Whereas, after the war, forest policy was dominated by the desire to increase timber production, in more recent years forests have been seen as more of a ‘mixed economy’. Timber production is still important, but this is matched with species protection, carbon reduction, and leisure pursuits. Yesterday’s report values the social and environmental benefits of woodlands in Great Britain at a huge £1.2 billion each year. Recreational visits to woodland alone are valued at £484 million each year!
This change to a ‘mixed economy’ approach for forests is similar to the welcome change that has taken place for the countryside as a whole. After the war, the countryside was often seen by policy-makers as an outdoor factory, producing goods and food – and official policy often discouraged the use of the countryside for people’s leisure and enjoyment. (The argument went: “You wouldn’t allow people to wander around an indoor factory – so why let them wander around the countryside?”) Over time, partly due to pressure from campaigners like the Ramblers, that attitude changed as policy-makers accepted the different roles the countryside can play. Policy has gradually caught up, and people have been increasingly welcomed into the countryside – for example, with the ‘right to roam’ legislation. With environmental concerns becoming more acute, there has also been an acceptance that people are more likely to look after the natural environment if they experience it raw and close-up.
If you’re a Ramblers walk leader, I hope you’ll think about putting on a special woodland walk during the week of 2nd-9th October. And if you’re not, I hope you’ll join in one of your local walks.
Follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/RamblersTom
Follow my blog for Ramblers volunteers at http://www.ramblers.org.uk/Volunteer/chief+executives+blog
The Ramblers’ Association is a registered charity (England & Wales no 1093577, Scotland no SC039799) and a company limited by guarantee, registered in England & Wales (no 4458492). Registered office: 2nd floor, Camelford House, 87-90 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7TW.
Visit our website at: