Kate Norgrove, Executive Director of Advocacy and Campaigns at WWF, said: “If the UK Government is serious about levelling up across the UK and creating opportunities for future generations, equitable access to nature and an accelerated green transition need to be at the heart of their plans. To keep its climate and nature promises, the UK Government must recognise that the climate and nature crises are two sides of the same coin. Urgent action to protect and restore nature will be a win-win for climate and communities, helping lock away carbon while benefitting our health.”
Businesswoman and TV personality Deborah Meaden, said: "It's increasingly clear that there are huge inequalities in the amount of green spaces and access to nature that people can enjoy close to home. I've always felt passionately that having nature close to the places where people live, work and visit is critical for our mental and physical health. Despite 80% of Brits wanting a ‘legal right to local nature’, it is not yet set out in law which means that building developments do not have to take this into account. This needs to change.”
Abi Bunker, Director of Conservation and External Affairs at the Woodland Trust, said: “Local communities love and value their trees – whether they are in their streets, parks, gardens or nearby woods. It’s not just about making places greener – visits to woods are estimated to save the NHS millions in treatment costs by improving mental wellbeing. We will be looking to Levelling Up legislation to address inequalities in tree cover and access to nature to meet the Government’s objectives on improving health and well-being, and realising ‘Pride in Place’ in left behind communities.”
Helen Griffiths, Chief Executive, Fields in Trust, said: “Urban Parks provide places for play, relaxation and enjoyment of the natural world. These green spaces help mitigate the worst effects of climate change, boost air quality and support biodiversity. Multifunctional green spaces delivering multiple advantages. Yet regional disparities mean that public access is not equitable. Our Green Space Index research demonstrates uneven provision of parks and green spaces across Great Britain. Vulnerable communities are missing out on many benefits, across the range of social policy agendas, that parks and green spaces contribute to our communities. We need to act to guarantee access to these spaces for our current and future wellbeing”
Steve Andrews, CEO, Earthwatch Europe, said: *Nature needs our help – and we need nature, which the evidence shows contributes so much to our physical and mental wellbeing, our sense of community and connection. It’s time to commit to greater equity of access to green space across the UK, to celebrate all that nature has to offer and to make it a part of daily life for all.”
Darren York, The Conservation Volunteers Chief Executive, said: "Green spaces are vital for biodiversity, wildlife, and the climate but also for thriving communities. We know from research with TCV volunteers that time spent in nature - particularly when that time is spent socialising with others - increases mental wellbeing. Connection to a local green space should be available to everyone.”
Dr James Robinson, Director of Conservation at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) said: "Spending time in wetlands does wonders for wellbeing - WWT have found that just 10 minute’s exposure can be enough to enhance your mood. Despite this, access to such places is highly unequal. To truly level up people’s wellbeing, everyone should be able to benefit from a daily dose of nature on their doorstep, with the opportunity to easily access wetlands where they live and work."
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