Primary - Contributing to local economies: 2008 Naturally Active - Woodland Commercial Recreation Toolkit

RWS theme(s)
Economic Development: “Encourage an increase in woodland-based tourism.” Action: ED1a

Woodland owners have sought different ways to secure alternative revenue streams: some have continued to find niche markets; others have simply “closed the gate”. However a growing number of owners are seeking new ways to make money from their wooded assets, and many of them are looking closely at what commercial recreation opportunities might have to offer.

The Norfolk landowners Richard “Toby” Coke and his wife have set up a gut-tightening high-ropes course in what are reputed to be some of the tallest trees in Eastern England. This “Extreme Adventure” facility, near King’s Lynn in Norfolk, consists of a series of rope crossings, obstacles and zip lines in the tree canopy - essentially an assault course at height. It was set up with Rural Enterprise Scheme funding from Defra. The next rural development funding programme, running from 2007 to 2013, will be administered by the Regional Development Agencies.

Initiative description
An interactive web-based resource designed to inspire recreation opportunities has been developed. This, the ‘naturallyactive’ website, enables woodland owners to receive guidance as to what and how their woods might be commercially developed through an analysis and a business advisory package.

Naturally Active has been developed by the Regional Development Agency EEDA, Sport England East and the Forestry Commission in co-operations with the East of England Tourist Board, Forest Research, and the Forestry and Timber Association.

Lesson(s) learned
Naturally Active has been developed in the East of England, with regional landowners in mind. But it soon became clear that anyone in lowland Britain could benefit from the advice contained within the website. According, partners took the brave decision not to clog the site with logos and to keep the “branding” neutral so that users everywhere would be comfortable. Naturally Active has hundreds of visits per day from all over the world.

Future developments
The website continues to be regularly updated and refreshed. During 2007 an entire new section on how to manage people in woodlands will be added.

Web links

Website by Dynamic Creative.