New research reveals huge public support for putting nature at the heart of Coronavirus recovery plans

Rupert Masefield

Wednesday 10 June 2020

RSPB calls on England's City and Metro Mayors to lead green recovery from Covid-19, as new survey shows overwhelming public support for protecting and investing in nature

New figures released by the RSPB reveal

  • Strong public opposition to Government reducing spending on nature or putting less emphasis on protecting nature;

  • People see access to nature as important for health and wellbeing during and in recovery from the Coronavirus crisis;

  • Potential inequalities in access to nature between high and low-income households, and between people in urban and rural areas;

  • 4 out of 5 people in England (84%) support the suggestion that Government should increase the number of accessible nature-rich areas in the UK;

  • 4 out of 5 people in England (80%) oppose the idea of Government reducing spending on nature;

  • 3 out of 4 people in England (76%) support the suggestion that nature could contribute to economic recovery in the UK.

The RSPB has written to England’s City and Metro Mayors asking them to listen to the people and build back better by putting nature at the heart of their recovery plans.

The UK’s largest nature conservation organisation, the RSPB, today called on the elected leaders of England’s biggest cities and most populous metropolitan areas to listen to the public and put nature at the heart of plans for a green recovery from the Coronavirus crisis.

The letter to the country’s City and Metro Mayors accompanied the charity’s publication of a report on the results of a recent YouGov poll that asked people about their views on the importance of nature both during, and in our recovery from, the pandemic.

The report reveals that nature and access to natural greenspace have been seen as important for people’s health and wellbeing since the Coronavirus crisis began, and that there is overwhelming public support for protecting and investing in nature and increasing accessible natural greenspace as part of our recovery from Coronavirus.

It also points to inequalities in access to nature between those in the highest and lowest income households, and between households in urban and rural areas, suggesting the impact of the Coronavirus crisis has not fallen equally across society.

The numbers that show inequality in access to nature:

The survey results suggest UK households with an annual income under £10,000 are 3.6 times more likely to have no outdoor space where they live, and about 40% less likely to live within a 10-minute walk of any publicly accessible natural greenspace, than people with a household income of £60,000 or more.

[Calculations by the RSPB]

Emma Marsh, Director, RSPB in England said:

“The results of the survey are striking in the sheer level of public agreement about the importance of nature, not only in the middle of the Coronavirus lockdown, but as we look forward and plan for our recovery from this crisis. They also highlight the inequality that exists in people’s access to nature, with the least well-off also the most deprived of nature where they live.

“City and Metro Mayors have a key role to play in leading the recovery from Coronavirus in their constituencies, which include many of the big cities and metropolitan areas where people’s access to nature is most restricted. As they start to plot a route to recovery, Mayors have a chance to dramatically improve people’s health and wellbeing and the resilience of communities by supporting and prioritising measures that increase nature and natural greenspace at the same time as creating jobs and investment, and stimulating the economy.

“That is why we have written to them today to share this report and ask them to take steps to build nature into their recovery plans, and I hope we will be able to work together to identify some of the initiatives that will help to deliver an equitable and environmentally sustainable economic recovery from Coronavirus.”

Ends

For more information and to arrange an interview, please contact: Rupert Masefield, RSPB Communications Manager, Rupert.masefield@rspb.org.uk , 07872 814878. 

Editor’s notes:

1. As reported in “Recovering together: a report of public opinion on the role and importance of nature during and in our recovery from the Coronavirus crisis in England”, published by the RSPB in June 2020.

Click to view the report

This report is based on the results of fieldwork undertaken on 14-15 May 2020 by YouGov on behalf of the RSPB. Total sample size for the UK was 2155, and the net sample size for England was 1,812 adults. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+). Find out more about YouGov polling at yougov.co.uk 

Some of the poll’s key findings, in numbers: 

  • 87% of respondents in England agreed living near nature is / would be beneficial during the Coronavirus outbreak. 
  • 84% support the suggestion that Government should increase the number of accessible nature-rich areas in the UK. 
  • 81% agreeing the Coronavirus outbreak has shown the importance of protecting and restoring nature  
  • 76% supporting the suggestion that nature could contribute to economic recovery in the UK. 
  • 80% oppose the idea of Government reducing spending on nature in the UK. 
  • People in the UK with an annual household income under £10,000 are 3.6 times more likely to have no outdoor space where they live, and about 40% less likely to live within a 10-minute walk of any publicly accessible natural greenspace than people with a household income of £60,000 or more.

For summary reports of the survey results for the whole of the UK and for England regions, use the following links:

 

2. The RSPB has written to the following City and Metro Mayors in England to ask them to put nature at the heart of plans for a green recovery from the Coronavirus crisis:

  • London: Sadiq Khan (Labour)
  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough: James Palmer (Conservative)
  • West Midlands: Andy Street (Conservative)
  • Sheffield City Region: Dan Jarvis (Labour)
  • Greater Manchester: Andy Burnham (Labour)
  • West of England: Tim Bowles (Conservative)
  • Liverpool City Region: Steve Rotherham (Labour)
  • Tees Valley: Ben Houchen (Conservative)
  • North of Tyne: Jamie Driscoll (Labour)  

Read our letter to Mayors

Last Updated: Wednesday 22 July 2020

Tagged with: Country: England Topic: Green issues Topic: Health Topic: People Topic: Planning and economics