The first lockdown period saw our visitor facilities close whilst our forests remained open for local exercise. Some of our teams were on furlough and those remaining working had the task of keeping exercise opportunities including trails and Public Rights of Way, open and safe. Alongside this, the demand for timber grew, meaning teams were still working proactively to provide raw materials for the nation.
As restrictions lifted, the number of users and eventually visitors to the nation’s forests grew enormously. New and infrequent visitors sought a release from lockdown and all locations, whether remote with little infrastructure, or close to communities with the full range of facilities, were soon at capacity.
Over the winter period, including the post-Christmas lockdown, numbers have remained high with some larger sites regularly reaching capacity by mid-morning. This has resulted in a range of management challenges from waste and litter, to antisocial behaviour and lack of social distancing.
However, these challenges have been more than offset by the many people who have sought space, exercise and a greater connection with nature during lockdown