COVID-19-INDUCED CHANGES IN OUTDOOR RECREATION HABITS IN LATVIA DURING WINTER HOLIDAY SEASON OF 2020/2021
Keywords:Outdoor recreation, forest, winter, covid-19, Christmas holiday season
In Latvia, with 53% of forest cover, many forest areas are favoured destinations for outdoor recreation in every season. Winter holiday season of 2020/2021 in Latvia coincided with strict lockdowns when normal everyday routines of most people were significantly disrupted due to COVID-19 pandemic, that likely changed outdoor recreation habits of people in scale, frequency and temporal distribution. Therefore, in the beginning of 2021, based on a representative sample of inhabitants of Latvia, we conducted a survey with questions pertaining to winter outdoor forest-related activities in general, as well as several traditional and popular activities that people often conduct specifically in Christmas and New Year holiday season, like collecting of Christmas trees in the forest, feeding wild animals, collecting materials for house decorations. These activities are often pursued together with friends and family, thus providing also socialization opportunities, an important aspect during lockdowns. The paper presents results concerning the frequency of forest visits, compared to pre-COVID-19 situation, the types of recreational areas favoured, as well as the observed changes in these areas.