Variability in Forest Visit Numbers in Different Regions and Population Segments before and during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Pichlerová, Magdaléna, Önkal, Dilek, Bartlett, Anthony, Výbošťok, Jozef and Pichler, Viliam (2021) Variability in Forest Visit Numbers in Different Regions and Population Segments before and during the COVID-19 Pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18 (7). p. 3469. ISSN 1661-7827

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18073469

Abstract

In view of the prevailing preferences for health and recreation revealed by previous studies as the main expected benefits of forest visits, the research presented herein focuses on whether such expectations would translate into a significant increase in the number of forest visits (NFV) following pandemic outbreaks. In this context, a Slovak nationwide survey on forests was conducted, with the main objective of casting light on possible changes in NFV as a coping mechanism or behavioral response to the discomfort and severe restrictions stemming from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the related measures. The survey was administered on a statistically representative sample after the pandemic’s first wave ebbed and restrictions were eased in the summer months of 2020. Collected data were assessed using ANOVA, the results of which supported the importance of forests as places providing opportunities for restoration of mental and physical resources. Forest accessibility as represented by forest coverage and settlement size emerged as a paramount factor affecting NFV rates both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic and its accompanying measures affected the relationships between NFV and average per capita income, type of employment, and most importantly age, highlighting possible vulnerabilities and disadvantages in certain population segments.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: This research was funded by Scientific Grant Agency of Ministry of Education, Science, Research, and Sport of the Slovak republic (VEGA—Vedecká grantová agentúra MŠVVaŠ SR a SAV), grant number 1/0836/18 (70%); and Project CHARMED—Characterisation Of A Green Microenvironment And To Study Its Impact Upon Health and Well-Being in The Elderly As A Way Forward For Health Tourism (Grant No. 734684) awarded by the European Commission through the Horizon 2020-MSCA-RISE-2016 scheme (30%).
Uncontrolled Keywords: Forest recreation, forest coverage, settlement size, Covid-19 pandemic, lockdown re-29 strictions, number of forest visits, forest visitor age
Subjects: B900 Others in Subjects allied to Medicine
L700 Human and Social Geography
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2021 10:45
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 14:40
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/45764

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