Mizaras, S., Kavaliauskas, M., Činga, G., Mizaraitė, D. and Belova, O. 2015. Socio-Economic Aspects of Recreational Use of Forests in Lithuania. Baltic Forestry 21(2): 308-314

This study clarifies recreational use of Lithuanian forests according to basic socio-economic characteristics (number of visitors, their objectives, problems, and economic assessment). Sociological surveys of inhabitants were conducted and methods of contingent valuation of forest recreational functions were applied. It was determined that the top primary recreational activities were simple relaxation (general sightseeing, hiking and walking, general relaxation) in the forest and picking mushrooms and berries. Survey results revealed that the intensity of visiting the forests for recreational purposes in 2012 was approximately 33.4 million visits per day. Over the past twenty years, transportation to the forest for recreational or commercial purposes changed from the dominant public transport usage to travel by personal vehicles. According to the survey results, a considerable number of respondents (88 %) would not agree to be charged for a visit to the forest, the rest would agree to be charged on average 1.02 EUR per day. Extrapolating the application of this tax provides a value of 34.15 million EUR for recreational functions of the Lithuanian forests.

Keywords: forest, recreation, socio-economic aspects