Branch Out

Access to forests for all campaigners

Campaign for woodland walking

A walk in the woods is one of life's simple pleasures.

We would like to see more woodland opened up for walkers to enjoy.

The Ramblers rallied together to save our woodland walks from Government plans to sell off England's Forestry Commission.

We are now pushing Government to ensure that everyone has a woodland close to them that they can walk and play in. 

Branch Out

Why are woods so important to walkers?

A walk in the woods is one of life’s simple pleasures. Forests are magical diverse habitats that evoke childhood memories of Enid Blyton novels and teddy bear picnics. The importance of woodland was shown by the huge uproar at Government plans to sell off England’s public forests in February 2011.

What happened after the Government withdrew its plans to sell off the Forestry Commission?

The Government set up an Independent Panel to look at the future of forestry in England. The Independent Panel put forward their final report to Government in July and said that they think access to woodland should be “the norm” for everyone. 

The Government set up an Independent Panel to look at the future of forestry in England. The Independent Panel put forward their final report to Government in July and said that they think access to woodland should be “the norm” for everyone. Government has now published its plans for taking forward the panel's report. We are urging them to come up with clear plans to increase the amount of woodland open for walkers.

What have we done in our campaign for woodland walking?

We have worked with other user groups (including horse-riders, cyclists and husky sledgers) to make sure that people enjoying woodland is a key part of all forestry policy.

Together, we’ve rallied and presented Forestry Panel members with saplings bearing messages. We’re now lobbying Government for clear plans to increase the amount of woodland that people can walk in.

How much woodland is off limits to walkers?

Currently the public in England and Wales have the right to walk in nearly all (90%) of Forestry Commission owned woodland, which makes up 18% of all woodland in England. But, the public can only enjoy an estimated 30% of other woodland.

What is the situation for walkers wanting to enjoy woodland in Scotland and Wales?

The public forest estates in Wales and Scotland are under the control of the devolved assemblies but still managed by the Forestry Commission. 

Walkers in Scotland have a statutory right of access to almost all land, including forestry and woodlands, through the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, which made Scotland one of the most walker-friendly countries in Europe.  Access rights also apply to cyclists and horseriders.

The Welsh Government has pledged to maintain Wales’s 126,000 hectares under public ownership. Walkers in Wales have the right to enjoy most Forestry Commission woodland, but have the same limitations in enjoying private woodland that walkers in England do. 

Our vision is for people to be able to walk in all woodland in Great Britain.

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Fact

12% of the UK is covered by woodland, compared to 37% of Europe. 

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Ramblers vision for forestry

Find out more about how we'd like more woodland opened up for walkers.

Cotswold Outdoor