6 September 2019
More people than ever before are concerned about damage to nature, new national statistics published this week show.
In the world’s biggest scientific study of its kind, Natural England’s ‘Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment’ (MENE) report shows that 9 out of 10 adults in England are concerned about increasing threats to the natural environment, with nearly two-thirds specifically worried about biodiversity loss.
Marian Spain, Interim Chief Executive of Natural England, said there is “overwhelming evidence” that investing in nature is the public’s priority: “Wildlife and greenspaces are hugely important for people, providing them with places to exercise, socialise, learn and experience the wonder of the natural world.“
The research also shows that while more people are spending time with nature than ever before, the research indicates clear inequalities, with children from the most deprived areas 20% less likely to spend time outside than those in affluent areas.
Local parks and greenspaces are particularly important to the nation’s mental and physical wellbeing, according to the research, with health and exercise the main reason why adults are spending more of their leisure time in green spaces in towns and cities.
Natural England, which has experienced significant budget and staff cuts in recent years, says it is committed to working with the public to help restore nature and deliver Government’s 25-year Environment Plan.
“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. We want everyone to enjoy the many benefits nature brings and also to take part in caring for their environment,” Spain added.
Now in its tenth year, MENE tracks changes in how people use and relate to the natural environment and is the longest-running survey of its kind. Natural England has published a “story map” providing infographics of key things learnt over the decade of MENE, which is available here.