Survey of the use we make of Tarvin woodland.
On Sunday, 19th September, volunteers of Tarvin Community Woodland Trust undertook the fourth (and final) survey of the users of our woodland. The surveys are very simple: we have been counting the numbers of adults, children and dogs that have passed through the woodland between dawn and dusk. Results for the three previous surveys have been published on TarvinOnLine (12th December 2020, 11th March & 20th June 2021) and so only the results for the final survey will be shown here.
There only one comment to be made about the September results alone and that is the low numbers between 2pm and 3pm, which, no doubt, were the result of a really miserable spell of rain. Otherwise, we can most profitably look for any patterns that show up across all four surveys. The first (and most obvious) pattern is that, first thing in the morning, many people walk their dog. Over the first hour of daylight, the numbers of people and dogs are identical – not just close but identical. Obviously, there is a routine in some houses whereby the dog gets taken for a walk before anything else is done!The second pattern is that the woodland is used predominantly by adults. At no time are the numbers of children and dogs added together as great as those for the number of adults. It is also true that dogs always outnumber children. To be able to tell anything else about those children that do use the woodland, we would need to have some sort of estimate of their age. My (very unscientific) perception is that the children being counted are babes, small children and children learning to ride cycles. Once children get into their teens, it seems that walking in the woodland is definitely not a "cool" thing to do!There is a vague pattern that shows peaks in use during both the morning and afternoon but this pattern is in no sense replicable from occasion to occasion. A wild guess might be that perhaps increasing numbers of folk go out the closer you are to the middle of the day but perhaps Sunday lunch provides a homeward draw somewhere right in the middle of that period to produce morning and afternoon peaks. This can only be a speculation – after all, we kept no record of the weather conditions and my lonely hour in the rain during this last survey at least suggests that weather may be an important factor.So, having done all of this counting, what can we tell? Previously we had always suspected that the woodland is being well-used, but now we know that to be true. We also know (without a shadow of a doubt) that Tarvin woodland is a boon for dog walkers. We also know that dogs make far more use of the woodland than do children!We have learned (anecdotally) that some people are travelling considerable distances in order to use our woodland. It is possible that the mention of the woodland in lists carrying names as improbable as "The best dog walks in Chester/Cheshire/the North West" is having a bearing on the range from which folk travel. The great use that is made by members of the extended community (from Kelsall, Waverton, Ashton, Barrow, Vicar's Cross, Manley and environs) also tells its own story of how our woodland compares favourably with walks in their own areas. However, a simple study such as ours does not allow us to pick up any of these issues. Would it be worth exploring the make-up of our woodland's users further? Do let us know if you think it merits further investigation. We will discuss the possibility of undertaking further work in our December meeting, so do let us know what you think well before that!