In the past, the main importance of the countryside has been as a place for agriculture and forestry, but as a result of economic and social changes farming and timber production now account for a very small proportion of the gross domestic product and of employment1. As well as being a place where people live and work, the countryside is now valued for recreation, environmental conservation and natural beauty. The need for recreation has led to the provision of open spaces, primarily by public authorities but also by charities and private landowners, in both towns and the countryside. The
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