Forestry and access

A walk in the woods is always a great experience, and there is plenty of evidence to show that woodland walking in particular reduces stress. However, these are also working environments and it’s important that access is carefully managed throughout any forestry operations.

Our position
The Forestry and Land Scotland is making efforts to demonstrate best practice in managing access during forestry operations and also in influencing the wider forestry industry. Access should be managed in a way which respects health and safety concerns while at the same time minimising the impact on those enjoying the forest.

Under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, walkers are advised to follow any guidance, not to climb on timber stacks and to keep a safe distance from machinery.

However, occasionally signage advising walkers or cyclists may be unclear or out of date. In this case, please send a photo of the signage to with information about the context so that we can take up the case with the regional  manager.

It’s important that these cases are highlighted; if walkers have confidence in the guidance they come across, that they are more likely to comply with any requests to alter their route and therefore reduce any safety risks.

Woodlands are wonderful places for walking at all times of the year. In Japan, the benefits to health have long been recognised, and people are encouraged to enjoy shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, spending time around trees to reduce stress and increase wellbeing. It is of course important to avoid trees at times of high winds.

Access rights apply to most land in Scotland including woodlands, and many land managers have developed walking and cycling trails to help you get the most out of your visit.

Woodlands and forests cover around 19% of Scotland, and of this one third is part of the national forest estate while two thirds are privately owned. The forestry industry is worth around £1 billion to the Scottish economy each year, but of that around £183 million or 18% of the total, comes from tourism and recreation, supporting around 6,300 full time equivalent related jobs.

As well as offering pleasant walks, forests are working environments and it is important that walkers respect any guidance during forestry operations, such as harvesting or haulage. This will include taking account of signage or using alternative routes where requested.  

Further reading:

Page last updated in June 2020