According to research, 9 out of 10 adults are concerned about growing threats to the natural environment, with 2 in 3 concerned specifically about biodiversity loss; and while engagement with nature has peaked, the figures still show clear inequality of opportunity

View of Leicester Square from the north-east. © BURNS + NICE

The level of public concern over nature and environment has reached unprecedented levels, according to recent research.

Natural England’s recent ‘Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment’ (MENE) report shows that 9 out of 10 adults in England are concerned about growing threats to the natural environment, with nearly two thirds specifically worried about biodiversity loss.

Encouragingly, more people are spending time in nature than ever before, with local parks and green spaces highlighted as vital to public health and well-being. Urban greenspaces in particular are increasing in popularity, providing a vital space for people living in deprived areas at a time when figures still show clear inequality of opportunity for access:

  • children from the most deprived areas are 20% less likely to spend time outside than those in affluent areas
  • 70% of children from white backgrounds spend time outside once a week, compared to only 56% of children from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds

62% of children living in deprived areas are most likely to visit urban green spaces – the highest proportion of any group – reinforcing the importance of such spaces in tackling health inequality.

The LI has long highlighted the benefits of both rural and urban greenspace in delivering health and wellbeing benefits, and welcome the continued recognition of the importance of these landscapes. Enshrining these values in the 25-year environmental plan was an important step, and we will continue to offer support to the government in delivering this.

Natural England Interim Chief Executive Marian Spain said: ‘Wildlife and greenspaces are hugely important for people, providing them with places to exercise, socialise, learn and experience the wonder of the natural world.

‘Natural England is committed to restoring nature by working with partners and the public to help deliver government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.

‘This research also 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.’

The landscape profession will continue to play a vital role in delivering these opportunities. The profession in the UK and worldwide has also recognised the challenges that the environment faces, with both the LI and the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) declaring a climate and biodiversity emergency in recent months.

The LI will continue to work to promote the many benefits of effective landscapes, including health, wellbeing, resilience and sustainability, and to champion our profession’s role in delivering for people, place and nature.

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