23.01.2004 - State forest recreational areas are used by over one-half of Estonian population 29.09

Of the Estonian population, 82% are aware of the opportunities for recreation in state forces, 55% make use of these, and 95% consider these opportunities very important, shows a survey carried out by the Faktum research centre in November last year.

“The number of people who use the recreational opportunities offered by RMK is large and has continued to grow during information campaigns. This heightens the importance of monitoring of the users and use, which in turn needs to be supported by nationwide repeat surveys,” said Deputy Head of the RMK Nature Management Department Jaak Jansen when explaining the need for the survey.

According to the survey results, 543,000–609,000 people have visited the ten recreational areas established by RMK during the past year. Most of the visitors (64%) are 15–34 years old and belong to a relatively larger income group (71–80% earn over EEK 3000 a month per family member).

Every visitor has visited two different recreational areas on average, most of the visits fall into the summer period. About 67% of all visits are made in summer, 13% in spring and autumn each, and 7% in winter.

“As over 80% of Estonian inhabitants aged 15–74 are aware of our opportunities and considering the growing interest of people in nature, it is clear that the frequency of visits and the variety of uses of our state forests are only growing,” Jaak Jansen said. “There is a risk of over-use of our scenic landscapes, which is why it is crucial to continue visitor monitoring and conduct supporting surveys. Monitoring helps us take the right development and management decisions.”

The popularity of the recreational areas established in state forests varies greatly; the areas near Tallinn, the north Estonian coast and the northern shore of Lake Peipus are the most visited spots. “To disperse the load, visitors should be signalled that there are recreational areas all over Estonia. Other places besides the best-known ones are just as well worth visiting,” Jaak Jansen added.

The survey on the frequency of visitation of recreational areas was ordered by RMK and it was an omnibus survey based on a sample representing the Estonian population: 969 persons aged 15–74.

A total of 328 different objects have been prepared for visitors in the state forest recreational areas of RMK, including 7 forest houses, 12 forest huts, dozens of camping sites, camp fire and picnic places, and hundreds of kilometres of nature trails.

RMK will invest EEK 21.8m in nature management activities this year, including EEK 3.1m in disseminating information about recreational activities, EEK 2.3m in promoting nature awareness, EEK 4m in establishing and developing publicly accessible objects, and EEK 12.4m in maintenance of protected natural objects.

The State Forest Management Centre RMK is a profit-making state agency established by the Forest Act, whose main duty is sustainable and efficient management of state forests. RMK grows reforestation material, organises forestry work and sells forest and timber. RMK provides opportunities for public access in the RMK recreational areas and develops nature educational activities in its houses of nature and the Sagadi Training Centre.

Further information:
Jaak Jansen
Deputy Head of Nature Management Department, RMK
Telephone +372 628 1567
E-mail jaak.jansenrmk.ee