The new England is natural People and nature survey found that between April and June 2020, almost nine out of ten adults in England said that protecting the environment is important to them personally. Almost three quarters of adults were concerned about biodiversity loss in England.
The country’s gardens, parks, forests and rivers have played a huge role in managing the coronavirus pandemic. Almost nine out of ten adults in England report that they are very happy outdoors. Four in ten adults said they spent more time outdoors than they did before the coronavirus pandemic, with health and wellbeing being among the top reasons for getting outdoors.
However, research shows clear inequalities in the ways in which you can engage with nature. Some adults did not go outside very often (if at all), with one in three not visiting a natural area in two weeks and one in five adults not having visited the natural in a month.
Research also shows the importance of local parks and green spaces to the country’s mental and physical well-being, with urban green spaces (such as a park, field, or playground) being the most frequently visited natural environments.
Marian Spain, Managing Director of Natural England, said: These new official statistics show the importance of investing in a green recovery. There is great public concern about the well-documented threats to wildlife and a clear reason to invest in natural areas near the place where people live and work to help the nation escape from the coronavirus pandemic recover.
Kestrel, Copyright Glyn Sellors, from the Surfbirds Galleries
This abundance of evidence leaves no doubt about the importance of connecting with nature to our physical health and mental wellbeing. It is important that all of society have access to these benefits. If we don’t address this, we cannot claim to have an equitable green recovery.
We look forward to working with government to reverse the decline of nature and ensure that everyone – regardless of their background or life experience – can benefit from a better natural environment.
The show official statistics This socio-economic status is related to access to natural spaces. You are less likely to have visited a natural space if you live in a highly deprived area, have low income, have a low level of education, or do not work. Older people, ethnic minorities, and people with a long-term illness or condition were less likely to have visited a natural space.
There are also regional differences: 66% of adults living in the Southeast visit nature in a period of 14 days (highest) compared to 52% who live in the West Midlands (lowest). There is also evidence that COVID-19 has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities in access to natural space.
Natural England is committed to promoting health and well-being in the natural environment and helping more people in a wider community benefit directly from the environment. The state program “Children and Nature” is currently being implemented to improve the physical and mental well-being of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. This includes providing green school grounds, supporting school visits to green spaces and improving forest activities. It also supports the government’s new two-year pilot project to enable green prescriptions for four urban and rural areas hardest hit by the coronavirus.