O’Brien, L & Morris, J. 2013. Well-being for all? The social distribution of benefits gained from woodlands and forests in Britain. Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability.
Abstract: Well-being is a positive physical, mental and social state and has increasingly become an area of interest to researchers and policy-makers internationally. This paper presents results from research that analyses the well-being benefits gained by different sections of society through viewing, engaging with, and accessing woodlands and forests in Britain. We draw on 31 studies undertaken since 2001 and present a meta-analysis of quantitative data and a meta-synthesis of qualitative data to explore the range of benefits and associated activities in woodlands, and their social distribution. We also present a state-of-the-art typology of well-being benefits for woodlands in Britain. The findings illustrate the wide range of well-being benefits gained by different social groups through various forms of engagement with and activities undertaken in woodlands. We illustrate the wide range of meanings and values attached to trees and woodlands across different social groups. The evidence also illustrates how carefully designed and targeted interventions can be particularly effective in enabling and encouraging people to visit woodland sites, to participate or get involved in new activities and, therefore, to realise a range of well-being benefits.