Access to nature is crucial to securing social and economic benefits, as well as mental and physical wellbeing. The IES has been actively involved in championing the importance of nature and its accessibility. Today, the IES is supporting ‘Nature For Everyone’ to help ensure wider access to the natural world.
Why do we need access to nature?
It is an inescapable truth that human society and the natural world are intrinsically linked. The importance of nature to our physical and mental wellbeing has never been clearer than during the pandemic. For some, natural spaces have provided invaluable respite, and have served as essential venues for socialising and exercising during lockdown
Being able to see the natural world first-hand is also crucial to understanding its importance and developing a sustainable perspective on the world, as CHES and the IES argued in our joint response to the Department for Education’s Draft Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy.
One in three people don’t have nature near their home, and many existing sites are in poor condition or at risk from development. There are also accessibility challenges for many, which limit their ability to benefit from nature and all it has to offer. Research, published last week by the IES, on the experiences of ethnic minority environmental professionals highlights how important widening access to the natural world is for the long-term diversity of the sector.
The scarcity and deterioration of natural spaces has left many communities unable to access the crucial benefits that nature provides. This has been exacerbated by a significant gap in local authority funding, with an estimated £190 million lost from local authority parks budgets alone since 2016.
What is ‘Nature For Everyone’?
‘Nature For Everyone’, organised by Wildlife and Countryside Link, is bringing together more than 60 nature, health, planning and equality organisations to demand ‘a legal right to nature’ in upcoming Levelling Up legislation. The organisations involved are asking for a requirement in law for developers and public bodies to provide access to nature-rich green and blue spaces for everyone, and for the Government to provide the necessary funding to deliver on that promise.
The IES is supporting the ambition to provide all people with access to nature. To achieve the goal of mutual social, economic, and environmental benefits which underpins the Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ ambitions, it will be necessary to ensure that the natural world is accessible to all of society.
How can we support access to nature?
Widening access to the natural world relies on a robust defence of nature and the positive ways it can help human society. If you are interested in supporting the call for all people to have equal chances to engage in nature, you can:
- Share your perspective on the local natural spaces which matter to you with #NatureForEveryone
- Find out more about ‘Nature For Everyone’ and their calls on the Government
- Read about the latest developments in policy affecting nature
- Find out how you can deepen your relationship with the IES and environmental science