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Wildlife and Countryside Link statement on recent media reporting

13 February 2024

News reports from multiple media outlets about Wildlife and Countryside Link’s evidence on racism and the countryside have taken comments from an inquiry response to MPs and misrepresented them out of context. Coverage has also been inaccurate in listing National Trust, RSPCA and WWF as contributors to the evidence. None of those organisations were signatories to the response.

Wildlife and Countryside Link does not believe the entire countryside is a racist, colonial, white space - as has been falsely reported by some media outlets - and neither do our members.
However, we do recognise the immense challenges in making sure everyone feels welcome at nature sites, the historical issues contributing to this, and the fact that racism is still worryingly being experienced by some people of colour when accessing nature.

Richard Benwell, CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link said:
“The British countryside is enjoyed by millions of people from a huge variety of backgrounds every day, with a warm welcome from rural communities. However, this isn’t the case for everyone. There are many accounts showing that some people of colour continue to experience racist comments and abuse when visiting nature. This is well-evidenced, including in reports from Government and from public bodies.

“We believe it is right to explore and address the barriers and racism that some communities face, so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of our beautiful countryside. That's why we're working towards policies which help everyone, regardless of background, to enjoy better access to nature.”

Recent evidence regarding access to greenspace:

  • DEFRA’s landscapes review found that: “many communities in modern Britain feel that these landscapes hold no relevance for them. The countryside is seen by both black, Asian and minority ethnic groups and white people as very much a ‘white’ environment.”
  • Natural England has concluded that: “People from ethnic minority backgrounds can feel or be made to feel ‘out of place’ in many natural environments. The data on racism and race hate crime in greenspace show how pressing these concerns are.”


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