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28 November, 2018

Outdoors visits at record high

Outdoors visits at record high: Scotland's People and Nature Survey ©Lorne Gill SNH

Visits to the outdoors have hit record levels in Scotland, a new survey suggests.

Research from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) reveals that an estimated 547 million outdoors visits were made in 2017/18.

The figure is up from 396 million in 2013/14 and is the highest ever recorded.

Scotland’s People and Nature Survey shows that people are also getting out and about more regularly and enjoying nature closer to home.

More than half (57%) said they ventured out weekly, up from 50% in 2013/14 when the survey was last carried out.

Meanwhile the proportion of visits taken in urban areas increased by 6 percentage points to 40%.

Local parks were the most popular destination, while walking remains the most frequently used mode of transport.

Exercising a dog was the most frequently cited reason for visiting the outdoors (42% of visits) followed by health and exercise (37%) and to relax and unwind (29%).

The majority of those who visited the outdoors (67%) strongly agreed it had helped them de-stress, 64% said it had improved their physical health and 52% said they felt closer to nature.

However, the survey of around 12,000 adults in Scotland shows there is still more to do to help under-represented groups access and enjoy nature.

While 82% of the total population had visited the outdoors for recreation over the 12 month period, this dropped to just 47% of those who reported having poor health, 73% of older people and those in the most deprived parts of Scotland and 63% of those with a long-term illness or disability.

SNH Chair Mike Cantlay said: “We know the many benefits of getting outside for physical and mental health and wellbeing, so it’s great to see that people in Scotland are enjoying the outdoors more than ever before.

“We want everyone across Scotland to benefit from nature but it’s clear from these findings that some groups still face barriers.

 “That’s why SNH is investing in projects across Scotland to improve green spaces in our towns and cities, particularly in the most disadvantaged areas, to create better places for people to connect with nature closer to home and reduce these inequalities.

“The outdoors is our Natural Health Service, and we are also working closely with other organisations to realise the incredible potential of our natural environment for a healthier Scotland.”


MEDIA QUERIES - For more information or a copy of the full report, contact SNH communications officer Catriona Webster on 0131 316 2655 or

Contact information

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Notes to editors

Scotland’s People and Nature Survey (SPANS) provides information on how people living in Scotland use, value and enjoy the natural environment and was first undertaken in 2013/14.

The methodology used for SPANS is similar to the Scottish Recreation Survey which ran between 2003 and 2012, ensuring comparability of key findings.

The 2017/18 research findings are based on in-home face-to-face interviews undertaken between May 2017 and April 2018 with a representative sample of around 12,000 adults (aged 16 and over) in Scotland. 

The Scottish Government has appointed SNH to lead on delivering the Green Infrastructure Fund, which is part of its current European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Programme and aims to improve Scotland’s urban environment by increasing and enhancing greenspace in our towns and cities, especially close to areas of multiple deprivation. Further details can be found here:

SNH is leading the development of Our Natural Health Service, an initiative that aims to bring about a step change in the use of nature-based solutions to deliver health outcomes. More information is available here:

Scottish Natural Heritage is Scotland's nature agency. We work to improve our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. So that all nature in Scotland - our key habitats and landscapes, all our green space and our native species - is maintained, enhanced and brings us benefits. It is the job of all of us to achieve a balance in the sensitive management of our natural world in order to maintain and enhance biodiversity. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

'S e Dualchas Nàdair na h-Alba buidheann nàdair na h-Alba. Tha sinn ag obair airson ar n-àrainneachd nàdarra ann an Alba a thoirt am feabhas agus a h-uile duine a bhrosnachadh gus barrachd cùraim a ghabhail dhi. Gus am bi an nàdar air fad ann an Alba – ar prìomh àrainnean is chruthan-tìre, ar n-àiteachan uaine gu lèir is ar gnèithean dùthchasach - air an gleidheadh, air an leasachadh 's a' toirt bhuannachdan dhuinn. 'S e an dleastanas a th' oirnn uile co-chothrom ann an stiùireadh faiceallach ar saoghail nàdarra a ruighinn airson bith-iomadachd a ghleidheadh 's a leasachadh. Airson an tuilleadh fios, tadhail air an làraich-lìn againn aig no lean air Twitter sinn aig


Scotland's People and Nature Survey ©Lorne Gill SNH

Scotland's People and Nature Survey ©Lorne Gill SNH

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