Survey of households and users of Gobions Wood
Summary by Michael Jonas
The report on the results of the surveys is a very detailed and professional document consisting of some 50 pages describing the methodology and illustrating the findings in graphical and written form.
During July and August, everyone on the electoral roll in the ward of Brookmans Park and Little Heath was sent a personally addressed copy of a questionnaire. This questionnaire was also sent to houses in the district with no registered electors and to everyone else who we knew had an interest in Gobions: most of these people live in Potters Bar and Welham Green. In addition, 100 different users were questioned within the Wood during August and September.
Some of the findings are as follows, with our comments in italics.
1,091 people out 4,356 returned questionnaires in time: this was over 25% of people and 28% of households, a good response for this type of survey.
54% of respondents were female, 46% male.
30% were over 65, 38% aged 45 to 64, 25% aged 25 to 44 and 7% 18 to 24.
10% of respondents use the Wood daily, 18% weekly, 15% fortnightly and the rest less frequently.
66% arrive on foot and 33% by car.
21% go for dog-walking, 55% for relaxation, 7% for nature studies and 4% to keep fit.
34% were "Friends" of the Trust. This figure has increased as a direct result of contacts made through the survey.
Overall, 84% of respondents agree that management of the Wood is necessary, 7% disagree and 9% are undecided.
These figures are consistent over all classes of respondent, except that for recent residents (those living in the district less than three years) the figures were 91%, 6% and 3%.
67% of respondents were in favour of partial restoration of the Bridgeman gardens, 13% against and 20% undecided.
This indicates that more detailed explanations of what is intended by partial restoration are required and this newsletter starts to address this point. Amongst the Friends, the proportion in agreement rises to 71%. It rises to 79% for residents of less than 3 years duration and falls to 61% for those living locally for over 24 years. These figures seem to reflect normal concerns felt about any change from the status quo.
To the question, "Do you have sufficient information about the aims of the Trust?", 74% of Friends, 68% of lapsed Friends and 77% of original supporters said, "Yes." 49% of those without links to the Trust, not surprisingly, would like still more information about the Trusts work.
Of interest to us are the reasons that individuals (out of the 1,091 respondents) gave for not making use of the Wood.
82 people have no time, 38 (32 female, 6 male) have safety concerns, 25 are not interested, 18 didnt know about the Wood and 17 claim poor access. These five reasons were suggested alternative answers on the questionnaire. In addition, 42 people wrote in that their reason for not visiting the Wood was that they are disabled and 9 wrote in "dog mess" as the reason.
The problem of disabled access is something we plan to address and this will also benefit others, such as people with prams and pushchairs. Regarding safety, we have never heard of any incidents which might give cause for concern, but perhaps a warden would alleviate the worries of these residents.
We are glad to report, then, that the general consensus is that we are doing an excellent and necessary job in providing this asset in North Mymms. There are of course some detail concerns and we expect there will always be some, as opinions naturally differ.
We will refer to the authoritative University of Hertfordshire report in detail as we formulate our management plans.
Finally, here are a few of the suggestions and comments appended to the survey forms:
The wood is dark, depressing and scruffy / Install a mini-golf course to raise funds
Fires should not be allowed (they arent, except when essential for maintenance)
Paths should be designed for wheelchair access
We should provide guided tours and educational visits (we often do)
Coded walks should be marked out / Dogs should be banned
Cycle paths should be created for youngsters / More No Cycling' notices are needed.
Patron: The Marchioness of Salisbury
Other sections of the Gobions Woodland Trust Friends' Report 1998