Voicing concern for nature and the environment
In October, Natural England published their annual “people and nature” report, which revealed that time spent in nature continues to be of the utmost importance to individuals, post-pandemic: Since coronavirus restrictions have been lifted, people have continued to find nature/wildlife and visiting green and natural spaces to be essential to their wellbeing.
86% of people said that protecting the environment was important to them – in fact, when asked about issues facing the UK, ‘The environment/climate change’ was the third most commonly selected response (chosen by 29% of people), after ‘Health/ the NHS/ Coronavirus’ (52%) and ‘the rising cost of living’ (30%).
This recognition of the value of nature is also reflected in behaviour. Between April 2021 and March 2022, 85% of respondents said they were going to make changes to their lifestyle to protect the environment. It is clear that people want, and are willing to take, action.
The report findings are significant (and heartening, for us). The belief that for people to care for nature, they must first connect with it, has long been a central tenant for Earth Trust’s work. We have been influencing for better and more accessible green spaces throughout our 40 year history. But, over the last few months, we have been more actively connecting to national campaigns that make noise for nature.
We talked in a previous newsletter about the Nature for Everyone Campaign. Proposed clauses to the levelling up bill were taken to Committee Stage of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill on 20th October so we are anticipating an update on the campaign in the coming weeks.
Earlier in October, we added our voice to over 75 nature, countryside, heritage and health organisations in expressing concern to the Prime Minster about potential deregulation of environmental protection laws at the same time as planning rules are being relaxed within investment zones. There has also been intense speculation that Defra may change or delay proposed Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMS). The government has denied an intention to go back on its commitment to the environment, but with only eight years left to meet legal obligations around nature restoration, this potentially represents a large set back to progress. Changing the rules when there is no clear plan or mandate for an alternative could set back environmental delivery by years.
The environmental sector is angry – many calling this an attack on nature. We have reached out to our community – volunteers, friends, supporters, asking you to express concern to MPs, and have been delighted with the response.
Together, we can make change happen. As we connect our communities, our voice will become louder.
Natural England’s report, as well as The People’s Plan for Nature project (powered by the WWF, the RSPB and National Trust) are symbolic of the heights of public interest in environment, the importance of having your say and demanding action.
With the launch of our new strategic direction, Earth Trust is embarking on a significant period of change – exploring how our new communication, engagement and education strategies can further develop the experience we provide for people, and how this can lead to real-world change where we all do our bit to help nature and people thrive together.