Evaluating the quality of the visitor experience at forest, woodland sites across England and Wales

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Why the client needed the research
Forestry Commission England (FCE) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) commissioned Beaufort Research to conduct a three-year programme of research amongst users of forest and woodland sites across England and Wales. The aim is to monitor visitor characteristics, behaviour, reasons for visiting and likes/dislikes.
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Our approach
Over the course of the project we will conduct c.9,000 face to face interviews (3,000 per year) at strategic interviewing points in FCE/NRW managed forest and woodland sites.  Interviews will take place amongst a representative sample of visitors between the months of March and October, not just during the busier months.  Also, interviewing points include some very remote and rural locations with low visitor foot-fall. Nonetheless target sample sizes have been achieved to date, with careful research design, planning and monitoring of progress against targets in field. In Wales, all interviewers working on the project are bilingual, to allow visitors to conduct the interview in the language of their choice (English or Welsh).

The outcome
As well as providing data on visitor satisfaction with the forest and woodland sites and the activities undertaken / facilities used, the questionnaire profiles visitors by home region, type of stay, spend, duration of visit, size and composition of group. Site specific and country-wide reports are provided at annual intervals to FCE / NRW, supplemented by regular fieldwork updates and progress reports, all feeding in to the clients’ monitoring and evaluation programmes.