With the state of the Euro (not to mention the state of the world) a Scottish staycation is becoming more tempting by the day.
But tourists and consumers are also increasingly aware of how they spend their money, and the impact their financial choices have on the world around them.
The Forestry Commission in Scotland has been running with these trends, offering sustainable woodland retreats for the discerning eco-tourist.
This year, the commission’s tourism partner Forest Holidays opened 11 new cabins in the heart of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park in the Strathyre Forest: an idyllic woodland retreat offering escape from city life and a chance to explore some of the most treasured land the nation has to offer.
Because of that, though, the accommodation has to be strictly regulated and fit an exacting brief to ensure it enhances the surroundings and has a minimal impact on the woodland setting, wildlife, flowers and vegetation.
The cabins are constructed above ground on steel piles so that nearby trees and their roots come to no harm and the forest floor remains undisturbed. The lodges must also visually fit into the woodland aesthetics and be maintained as environmentally as possible, so quality insulation and low carbon emissions are a must.
Forest Holidays runs and manages the cabins and holds a long-term lease on the Forestry Commission land on on which the sites are based. The commission is paid a rental, so the revenue from cabin developments goes back into managing the forest, and developing wider facilities for the public.
From a tourist’s point of view, going on an eco holiday doesn’t mean curtailing quality or relaxation. The cabins are modern, homely and luxurious, especially if you consider the hot tubs, sunken baths and wood-burning stoves in the top-of-the-range ‘Golden Oak’ accommodation.
There’s also a variety of outdoor woodland activities for guests in the immediate vicinity (including cycling, hiking, canoeing, woodland survival courses, mini-ranger experiences and archery) so visitors engage with the forest during their stay.
The Forestry Commission in Scotland has been around in different forms for nearly 100 years, planting trees since 1919 to build up a supply of timber and create new forests.
Just as some of the mature trees are now being harvested and the land is changing, the government agency has also grown and developed over the century, and what is asked of it has significantly moved on.
Part of the modern remit is to maintain the forests for public enjoyment and encourage access, so working with Forest Holidays is a way of combining land management, tourism, public visits and business acumen.
Overall, the forest estate in Scotland welcomes around nine million guests each year and generates around £610m for the economy of Scotland. Forest tourism plays a key role in this.
Alan Stevenson, the commission’s Head of Communities, Recreation and Tourism, says: “The way the cabins are set out means that they are very carefully sited, we have a lot of dialogue between forestry and landscape professionals and the cabin designers. The Forest Holidays experience is a unique experience. It’s in the forest, it’s of the forest, it’s for the forest.”
For more information on Forest Holidays, go here