A NEW survey is to be carried to help establish the number of people visiting woodlands in the North-east.
The study, which will last throughout the year, is aimed at building up a picture of how many people visit the forests, and how often.
It will be carried out in woodlands managed by Forestry Commission Scotland and the analysis is part of an-ongoing national monitoring programme which gathers useful information on visitors.
Figures from the last survey estimated that around 1.8 million visits were made to forests stretching from Moray through to Aberdeenshire.
During the coming year, Culbin, Roseisle, Bennachie, Aberdeen Woods, Banchory Woods and Bin forests are among those that will be surveyed.
Laura Stewart, marketing manager with Forestry Commission Scotland said that welcoming visitors to our forests was important on a number of fronts.
She said: “Our forests are often part and parcel of overall tourism strategies and can be big tourism destinations which support local economies.
“On the other hand, our woodlands are vital as they are well used by local communities as popular place for walking, cycling or simply taking the dog for a walk.
“To help us find out more about our visitors we will be undertaking this survey throughout the year in a number of forests in the area.
“The information will help the Commission and other organisations get a better picture of what is happening in our forests and woodlands.”
This year’s survey follows on from a similar one that was carried out across Scotland between 2004 to 2007.
The data recorded back then will act as a valuable benchmark for comparison.
Face to face interviews will find out some basic background details of visitors, including their age, reason for visiting and how far and how they travelled. Information on how much money they have spent in the local economy will also be collected.
As well as interviews, data on visitor numbers will be collected from vehicle and people counters.
Anyone wanting more information on the All Forests Survey 2 will find it available at http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-5WCMR4