Nature Nearby: Fighting for Equal Access to Nature

June 01, 2021


Fresh air, sea-salty wind, crunchy leaves under wellies, green trees as far as the eye can see, sunsets and rises, the whoosh of the ocean - experiences in nature are good for the soul, and it's backed up by evidence!


 The benefits we experience from spending time in nature are no secret, and I think many of us can appreciate them more than ever since our world got much, much smaller and quieter through the pandemic. Whether the reduced traffic meant we noticed the birds singing more, or extra time meant we spent longer exploring our local woodland, nature was there for us when we needed her.


Research shows that time in nature can reduce our blood pressure, heart rate, and stress levels, help us to sleep better, reduce anxiety, and boost our mood. It's also good for creativity and improving emotional and cognitive development.


The problem is, although everyone should have access to nature, it isn't currently the reality in the UK. Easy and safe access to high-quality green and blue spaces should be a right, not a privilege.


Research shows that those on low income are less likely to have access to public natural space, and children from poorer families are less likely to spend time in nature than other children. People from ethnic minorities are less likely to live within a 5-minute walk of a green space when compared to white people, and also less likely to have access to good walking routes.


This inequality continues when private green space is taken into account, as 12% of people in the UK don't have access to a garden, a figure that rises to 21% in London, with black people almost four times less likely to have access to a garden than white people.


Feeling unsafe in nature is also a barrier to access. Women and girls report feeling unsafe outdoors, with women who identify as disabled or LGBT more likely to feel this way. The risk of racist abuse or harassment also prevents people from ethnic minority backgrounds from spending time in nature. People with disabilities are often unable to access natural green and blue spaces, for example due to lack of accessible paths, parking, or toilets.


UK Youth for Nature are working hard to turn this around by engaging with the UK governments and asking them to act now to ensure that everyone has access to safe, high-quality green and blue spaces. The more voices we have, the more likely they will have to listen and take action! So how can you help?


  1. Sign the petition here to the governments of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
  2. Write to your local politician. I know this can feel a bit daunting, but there is lots of information here to make it quick and easy to do!
  3. Shout about the lack of access to nature! And share the campaign with friends and family.

Nature's Good News