Public concern for nature reaches all-time high
A massive nine out of 10 adults in England are concerned about the growing number of threats to nature, an annual government survey has uncovered.
This is the highest proportion ever recorded by Natural England over the last 10 years, with two-thirds of adults specifically worried about biodiversity loss.
The researchers also found that visits to the natural environment are at an all-time high, rising from an estimated 2.9 billion in 2009/10 to almost four billion in 2018/19.
However, the findings show that children from more deprived areas are significantly less likely to come into contact with nature than those from affluent towns and cities.
“Wildlife and green spaces are hugely important for people, providing them with places to exercise, socialise, learn and experience the wonder of the natural world,” Natural England interim chief executive, Marian Spain, said.
“The overwhelming evidence makes clear the priority the public give to investing in nature’s recovery.”
Now in its tenth year, Natural England’s MENE survey is the longest-running poll of its kind, tracking how attitudes are changing towards nature and biodiversity loss.
The latest findings also show that most visits to the natural environment are taken on foot and increasingly close to home, with 44% of visits now taken within one mile.
This is particularly true for people living deprived areas. For example, 62% of children living in the 10% most deprived areas of England are most likely to visit urban green space, compared with only 30% who visit the countryside.
It was also found that children from the most deprived areas are 20% less likely to spend time outside than those in affluent areas.
Moreover, 70% of children from white backgrounds spend time outside once a week, compared to 56% of children from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds.
“This research underlines how important it is that we create new opportunities for people to connect with nature wherever they live and whatever their age," Spain continued.
"We want everyone to enjoy the many benefits nature brings and also to take part in caring for their environment. Natural England is committed to restoring nature by working with partners and the public to help deliver government’s 25 year Environment Plan."
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Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM