recreation in the forest
Welcoming the public back to the forests became the top priority in the 1970s
recreation in scotland’s forests
In the 1970s, the focus for the Forestry Commission’s activities and planning shifted towards recreation. While commercial forestry, conservation and wildlife habitat research were all still vitally important facets of the organisation’s policy and approach, it was during this decade that the idea of forests as a destination for leisure, pleasure and exercise became increasingly important.
WALK THIS WAY…
‘Forest Walks’ became more formalised, waymarked trails, with accompanying leaflets, signage and interpretation. There was an increase in the number of campsites, picnic areas and viewpoints in the forests looked after by the Commission, and the Signs Unit got busier each year, drafted in to create everything from signposts, to interpretation, forest furniture, fencing, and shelter huts.
The forests managed by the Commission would grow in popularity over the years, becoming an integral part of Scotland’s tourist economy, increasingly regarded as a national treasure by the public at large. As more ecological and conservationist movements began to emerge, there was a new appreciation of the forest as the ‘heart and lungs’ of the countryside.
WANDERING IN THE WILDERNESS
A lot has changed in the intervening decades. Forestry and Land Scotland is carrying on the work of the Forestry Commission in Scotland, improving access, facilities and attractions across the country.
Maps and guides are now free of charge, and in urban forests near the big cities, you are as likely to encounter one of the many community groups who use the forest for their projects and learning as you are to meet a local walking their dog.
Mountain biking is one of the most popular activities in the forests today, with the FLS-run 7stanes network catering to a dedicated audience of downhill racing fanatics. This was not yet a popular sport in the forests of 1970s Scotland, but the pictures above do show the forests being used as a staging point for rally car races.
Forest signage has evolved over the years, too, with the FLS Interpretation and Design teams working hard to create a welcoming, informative environment at each destination, without affecting the natural look, feel and atmosphere of Scotland’s breathtaking wild places.
A WINTER WONDERLAND
Selling real Christmas trees has long been a Forestry Commission tradition, and it’s one that Forestry and Land Scotland continue to this day.
With the largest Christmas Tree Sales Centre still in Kirkhill Forest, at Tyrebagger, a busy Christmas market welcomes hundreds of guests each winter.
Prices have gone up a bit since the 70s - here’s what it would have cost you for a Christmas Tree from Tyrebagger back then, according to Forestry Memories:
7-8ft trees – 70 p
6-7ft trees – 60p
5-6ft trees – 40p
4-5ft trees – 35p