Public resource or private sanctuary?: access patterns and narratives from the woodland of North East Derbyshire

Lisewski-Hobson, Vivyan (2019) Public resource or private sanctuary?: access patterns and narratives from the woodland of North East Derbyshire. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Set against a backdrop of a long and turbulent debate on access to the countryside, this thesis addresses gaps in knowledge on lived experience of access to woodland. The approach is geographically situated in ordinary wooded landscapes in North East Derbyshire and uses an approach which analyses physical evidence, archives, observation and interview narratives from a range of stakeholders.

Using a sample of 58 woodlands the study finds that official access is limited, especially in privately owned woods. However, in almost half of the larger woods the public were roaming freely regardless of who owned the site. Observational evidence showed that more than 40% of the participants were using unofficial paths and were potentially trespassing. However, the definition of trespass is critiqued in this study. The public were largely using paths, oblivious of their status without reference to maps though some were utilising new media, such as on-line walks or YouTube videos. Interviews showed that the majority of people were using woodlands in a pursuit of calm, quiet or peace and valued having woodland close to their homes. However many were anxious about losing the wood to development though illegal use by motorcycles was a greater negative theme across all participant groups. Landowners were mixed in type with country estates owning the largest proportion of woods. However, the largest group of landowners were private individuals who usually owned just a small woodland plot. Changes in ownership caused conflict in some case study sites with members of the public showing resistance to new restrictions on access. However, landowners were universally resistant to the idea of any new rights for woodland users and themes of privacy and control were common to many of them. In addition many of the owners were motivated by the same pursuit of peace and tranquility common among the public participants. This may be translating into a desire to exclude the public from what they may see as their private sanctuary. Attitudes to public liability risks were also analysed and though this was a concern in around half of the participant landowners it was less important overall than privacy and control.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Watkins, Charles
Jewitt, Sarah
Keywords: woodland access recreation
Subjects: D History - General and Old World > DA Great Britain
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Geography
Item ID: 56677
Depositing User: Lisewski-Hobson, Vivyan
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2019 11:49
Last Modified: 06 May 2020 12:45

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