The attractiveness of forests: Preferences and perceptions in a mountain community in Italy


  • Isabela De Meo Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l’analisi dell’economia agraria - Agrobiology and Pedology Centre (ABP), Piazza ‘d’Azeglio 30, 50121 Firenze, Italy
  • Alessandro Paletto Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l’analisi dell’economia agraria- Agrobiology and Pedology Centre (ABP), Piazza Monsignor Nicolini6, 38123 Villazzano diTrento, Italy
  • Maria Giulia Cantiani Department of Civil, Environmental, and Mechanical Engineering, University of Trento, via di Mesiano 23, 38123 Trento Italy



public preferences, social perception, destination attractiveness, recreation in forest, ecotourism, Italian Alps


The analysis of the perception and preferences of local communities is a fundamental aspect to increase the social sustainability and to reduce the conflicts between forest users. The knowledge of people’s perception of forest resources is important for decision makers, when implementing management strategies and this is particularly relevant in mountainous area, characterized by a strong link between local communities and forest. The paper focuses on the analysis of people’s perception and preferences regarding the recreational value of forests. The research has been carried out by means of a case study, the Municipality of Trento, located in the Centre East sector of the Italian Alps. This area was chosen on the grounds of its geographical location and of the historical links that exist between local communities and forest resources. The sample included 1,000 randomly selected families and the method of investigation used was a structured selfreported questionnaire. The data were processed taking into account the relationship between people’s perception and the main social characteristics of respondents (gender and age); this allowed statistical differences among groups to be highlighted. Forest attractiveness has been investigated considering: (i) forest accessibility, (ii) forest stand characteristics, (iii) visitor facilities and infrastructures. The results show that people prefer the open mixed forests with an irregular structure and some visitor facilities such as paths and refreshment points. Besides, people like to have facilities in the forests, but at the same time would like these forests to be little frequented by other visitors, in order to have a greater feeling of naturalness.


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Research article