Data from a large-scale contingent valuation study are used to investigate the effects of forest attributes on willingness to pay for forest recreation in Ireland. In particular, the presence of a nature reserve in the forest is found to significantly increase the visitors’ willingness to pay. A random utility model is used to estimate the welfare change associated with the creation of nature reserves in all the Irish forests currently without one. The yearly impact on visitors’ economic welfare of new nature reserves approaches half a million pounds per annum, exclusive of non recreational values.