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Measuring participation

Measuring participation in outdoor recreation helps us ensure that everyone in Scotland has the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.

Regular research helps us to identify target audiences and develop policies and practice to encourage people in Scotland to make more use of the outdoors for recreation, volunteering and learning.

We conduct a number of different surveys to better understand how people in Scotland use, enjoy and value the natural environment.

Scotland’s People and Nature Survey

Scottish Natural Heritage commissioned the Scotland’s People and Nature Survey (SPANS) for the first time in 2013/14.  A smaller-scale version of the survey was run in 2017/18 to update findings on outdoor recreation and the health and well-being benefits associated with visiting the outdoors.

Read Scotland’s People and Nature Survey 2013/14: SNH Commissioned Report no. 679

Read Scotland's People and Nature Survey 2017/18: outdoor recreation and health modules: SNH Research Report 1062.

Read Scotland's People and Nature Survey 2017/18: technical report: SNH Research Report 1063.

SPANS provides data on:

  • the number and types of visits people make to the outdoors
  • what benefits people feel they get from visiting the outdoors
  • people’s perceptions of National Parks, national and local landscapes and the provision of woodland and other types of greenspace for recreation

A series of SPANS special interest reports covers:

Greenspace Scotland's 2017 Greenspace Use and Attitudes survey provides insights into the public's views and use of urban greenspace.

Scottish Recreation Survey

The Scottish Recreation Survey (ScRS) preceded SPANS. It monitored participation in outdoor recreation among adults in Scotland from 2003 to 2012.

Between 2006 and 2012, ScRS data were also used to monitor progress on the Scottish Government’s National Indicator, Increase people’s use of Scotland’s outdoors. (The Scottish Government’s Scottish Household Survey has been used instead since 2013.)

Scottish Nature Omnibus

The Scottish Nature Omnibus (SNO) monitors public awareness and understanding of issues related to National Nature Reserves, wildlife, biodiversity and taking positive action for nature.

The survey has been running since 2009 and now reports on a biennial basis. Read our most recent Scottish Nature Omnibus report by searching our publications catalogue.

A short series of SNO special interest reports covers: