We all love getting out and enjoying nature, but do you know just how important nature is to our health? Our new Nature for Everyone campaign aims to ensure that everyone, everywhere, can access the benefits of nature.
From seeing that first Brimstone butterfly in spring, to feeling the crunch of leaves underfoot, 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.
The importance to physical and mental wellbeing
The importance of nature to our physical and mental wellbeing has never been clearer than during the pandemic. For those of us with nature near our homes, our natural spaces proved an invaluable respite, and important place for socialising and exercising in lockdown. But the COVID crisis also highlighted the inequalities in access to nature as never before with millions of people unable to access local natural spaces close to their homes.
One in three people don't 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.
A collaborative approach
That's why we've joined with more than 60 nature, health, planning and equality organisations to demand 'a legal right to nature' in upcoming Levelling Up legislation.
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.
The thoughts of Steve Backshall MBE
Steve Backshall MBE, explorer, naturalist, presenter and writer said: "I spoke alongside Michael Gove when the Environment Bill was first mooted, and he spoke passionately about our need for nature. Boris Johnson has very much done the same. Now it is time for them to put their money where their mouths are. The new levelling up plans must include the promise of nature for everyone. Public authorities should have a duty to make sure we all have a good quality environment near home, with rights of access and safe ways to enjoy it. If you agree, please support the campaign and let's make sure that levelling up means everyone can discover the wonders of our natural world."