New national statistics published by Natural England show that more people than ever before are visiting and spending time in the natural environment.
According to their annual ‘Monitoring of Engagement with the Natural Environment’ (MENE) report, the proportion of adults visiting nature at least once a week has increased from 54% in 2010 to 62% in 2018.
Their survey asked 46,000 people how they engage with the natural environment, and it found that the trend could be seen across population groups, including groups where levels of participation have historically been lower.
It also found the proportion of people living in England’s most deprived areas visiting the natural environment at least once a week has increased from 38% in 2009/10 to 51% in 2017/18.
Principal specialist for people and the environment at Natural England, Rose O’Neill, said: ‘Over the last nine years there has been a real change in how people think about and experience the natural world.
‘It is great that more people than ever before, from across all sections of society, are spending increasing amounts of time enjoying the natural environment.
‘Research has also shown that one of the main motivations for people engaging with the natural environment is the benefits to health and wellbeing, underlining the important role of nature in everyday lives.’
According to the report, health and exercise is the main motivation for spending time in the natural environment with 48% actively choosing to walk rather than driving, compared with 40% in 2009/10.
However, the survey revealed that despite high levels of concern, only a third of people think they are likely to make future lifestyle changes to protect the environment.
Just over three-quarters of the population (77%) recycle on a regular basis, a figure that hasn’t changed since the survey was first commisioned in 2009/10.
The MENE survey is funded by Natural England, with support from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Read the report here.