People and nature: Realising the promise of Nature 2030
Earlier this year, Earth Trust in collaboration with Wildlife and Countryside Link launched the ambitious Nature 2030 campaign – a five-point plan aimed at putting nature on the path to recovery by the end of the decade.
Last week, the coalition took this vision one step further by publishing a ‘minifesto’ on People and Nature, detailing how their five key asks can help create greener and healthier communities that put both people and the natural world at the centre of decision-making.
Here at Earth Trust, our work is grounded in the belief that for people to truly care for the environment, they must be able to nurture a deep connection with nature. In this post, Head of Communications Verity Warne explains how the Nature 2030 campaign’s goals align with Earth Trust’s mission to help more people access and build meaningful bonds with the world around them.
Nature nourishes our souls. The melody of birdsong lifts our spirits. Fresh air and sunlight renews us. But biodiversity is collapsing in England, with 16% of species at risk.
The truth is we need nature, but nature also needs us. Our natural world is crying out for help. We know that people who are connected to nature take action to protect and restore it. But currently, 38% of people lack a green – or blue – space within 15 minutes of home. In fact, the UK ranks lowest of 14 European countries for nature connectedness.
Here in Oxfordshire nearly half of residents are more than 2km from a 20ha greenspace. While urban areas in Oxfordshire are in general well provided with accessible natural green space, there are significant deficits in Didcot, Thame, Banbury and Bicester. And rural populations often lack accessible nature spots despite being surrounded by the countryside.
This reinforces the need to think differently – and creatively – about how access to nature impacts different communities. And how important it is to engage those communities in identifying their needs and how to address them.
We must all be empowered to take action for nature, to create the green and beautiful future we want. Yes, we must protect fragile ecosystems and threatened species. But we believe that people and nature can only thrive if they do so together. And so, we also need the legal means for all to responsibly access, benefit from and enjoy nature’s gifts.
The UK government is legally obliged to halt the decline of biodiversity by 2030. The Nature 2030 campaign is a challenge to all political parties ahead of the next general election to take action for nature, proposing five bold policies to get Government back on track to meet our national 2030 nature targets.
For people’s access to and engagement with nature, we believe this means:
- Creating more, better and accessible nature spaces
- Investing in traineeships that deliver widescale habitat restoration – increasing those with skills for nature-based solutions
- Introducing a new legal right to a healthy environment with clean air, water and access to nature
- Funding and support for farmers to deliver nature-friendly farming and incentivising farmers to welcome people and give access to the countryside
- Requiring big businesses to reduce their environmental harm and invest in nature recovery, particularly close to where people live
But, to drive truly ambitious, holistic action, these Nature 2030 actions must align with a national commitment to give everyone access to high-quality natural spaces within a 15-minute walk.
While we welcome the Government’s commitment to fulfil this ambition, we believe this target should become legally binding to drive real change.
Along with others in the environmental sector, we have been calling on the next Government to introduce legislation to create more opportunities for everyone to access nature close to where they live.
Imagine an Access to Nature Bill that could:
- Put into law the 15-minute target for access to a high quality green or blue space
- Extend public access rights across the countryside to waterways, woodland, riversides, and grasslands
- Open up the countryside and water for people of all abilities
- Remove the 2026 cut-off date for registering historic rights of way
- Require the Government to publish a clear strategy for giving everyone access to nature
- Establish an Access to Nature Investment Strategy
- Make it compulsory for all new developments to meet Green Infrastructure Standards
- Ensure every child has regular high-quality access to and engagement with nature throughout their formal education
We cannot achieve a better state of nature without creating a healthy natural environment for all people to benefit. We need nature, but nature also needs us.
By taking action for nature and people together, we can create greener and healthier communities, restore our relationship with the natural world, and create a more inclusive and powerful movement of people championing and benefitting from nature.
The Nature 2030 ‘minifestos’ are a series policy briefings which provide detail about how our five key Nature 2030 asks could be applied across a range of issue areas including freshwater, chemicals, marine, climate and access to nature, to help deliver nature’s recovery.