New campaign calls for a ‘legal right to local nature’ in Levelling Up reforms
Parks Community UK and the NFPGS have joined with more than 60 UK nature, planning, health and equality organisations to call for access to nature to be a legal right.
Under the campaign banner “Nature for Everyone” we stand alongside groups such as Greenpeace, Wildlife and Countryside Link, Fields in Trust, Friends of the Earth, Institute for Public Policy Research and The Wildlife Trusts, asking for access to nature to be included in any government plans to “level up”. The UK Government must ensure every community in the UK has quality nature-rich green/blue spaces nearby because the benefits are too huge to ignore.
From hearing birdsong, to the crunch of leaves underfoot or the bubbling of a spring, the sights and sounds of nature are scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety, and even lower our blood pressure. Just looking at trees from a window has an impact.
Visits to urban parks and other green spaces nearly doubled in the decade before the pandemic, from 1.2bn in 2009-10 to 2.1bn in 2018-19. Yet, one in three people do not have nature near their home, with the poorest communities and people of colour twice as likely to live in nature-deprived areas. Many existing sites are in poor condition or at risk from development. And many are not easily accessible for those with mobility issues or disabilities or those facing wider societal barriers.
This lack of, and deterioration in, our public natural spaces means thousands of communities are missing out on the joys and health benefits of access to nature. A huge local authority funding gap is largely to blame, with an estimated £190 million lost from local authority parks budgets alone since 2016.
Craig Bennett, the chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said:“Our towns and cities have a huge role to play in nature’s recovery. We need to create and join up habitats, enabling species to recover and benefiting people too. It is critical that nature is at the heart of all planning and development, for wildlife, communities, and climate. Having access to wild places and wildlife shouldn’t be a privilege, but a part of everyday life.”
Recent research by Wildlife and Countryside Link, found that 80% of the British public support a legal right to local nature and 85% say it should be a priority for all new housing developments to include accessible natural spaces.
We’re asking the government to put 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 funding to deliver this.
The Government has promised that its “levelling up” agenda – will create equal opportunity and quality of life for everyone around the country. But this can only succeed if it includes levelling up access to nature.
Help us to hold the Government to its promises, please share this campaign with your network and add your name to the petition to demand #NatureForEveryone: bit.ly/nature-everyone.
Read the Guardian article: “UK wildlife campaigners call for legal right to access nature for all“
Full Press Release from Wildlife and Countryside Link read here: https://www.wcl.org.uk/nature-for-everyone-launch.asp