‘Environment’ is a word used repeatedly in today’s world. But what do we in the UK really feel about it and how much do we understand? This was the focus of a number of surveys carried out from 2007 to 2011.
The results of Defra’s snappily titled Statistical Bulletin on Attitudes and Knowledge relating to Biodiversity and the Natural Environment 2007–2011 show that people really do have a strong attachment to nature – a massive 92% of those responding believed it was fairly or very important for them to have public gardens, parks, commons or other green spaces nearby. 85% said they agreed that they were ‘proud of their local environment’. The amount of people using green spaces at least once a week had risen to 56% by 2011 from 48% in 2009. It’s truly fantastic to see that more people are enjoying the world around them.
More of the key findings are also interesting. Biodiversity is a word that still gets blank looks from many. But results show that now 48% have at least a little understanding of its meaning, up from 44% in 2009. When prompted, 78% of people agreed they ‘worry about changes to the countryside in the UK and the loss of native animals and plants’. This is of course a worry, but if we think and act positively we can achieve wonderful things – there are plenty of actions that can be taken to save our natural heritage. However, only 13% of respondents had volunteered with, given time to or taken part in conservation volunteering for an organisation or community group in the past 12 months. All I can say is the other 87% are really missing out! Life is all about experience and you can have some truly fantastic ones volunteering. All in all it is great to see that people are getting out into the environment and understanding it more and more. The world gave us life and we can give it right back - but if we want it to always be there for our enjoyment we all have to do our bit, however small.
Kay Haw, Assistant Conservation Adviser