Lockdown survey results show concerns

The value of people’s connection with nature as well as fears and aspirations for the environment brought into sharp focus by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trusts’ Lockdown Survey.

Analysis of a survey undertaken by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust to understand people’s connection with nature as well as the their fears and aspirations for the natural environment after lockdown shows that people spent more time outdoors, explored new greenspaces and noticed more wildlife than ever before.

As well as highlighting the positive side of our shared lockdown experience, the results also underline people’s fears over unfettered development as the Government seeks to build its way out of the deepening recession.

Key findings included 92% of people noticing the reduction in traffic at the height of lockdown and 56% experiencing cleaner air. 62 % had spent more time outdoors during lockdown with 50% discovering a new greenspace.

The most popular places to experience the outdoors were private gardens, with 92% of participants having spent more time in theirs, followed by the wider countryside, parks and nature reserves.

An overwhelming majority believed that time spent outdoors had been a comfort during the challenging lockdown period and almost a third (33%) stated that their mental health had improved as a result of time spent outdoors.

Over 40% of people, especially younger respondents stated that they had seen more or different wildlife over the period.   

In terms of fears, over three quarters of respondents consider pressure for new roads and housing to be a threat to nature alongside the impacts of climate changes.

The survey also contains some useful pointers for local authorities as they plan for the future such as the importance of investing in local parks and greenspaces – including incorporating wildlife rich greenspace into new housing developments. People are also keen to see wilder areas within parks and along roadsides and efforts to tackle pollution and climate change.

Speaking about the Life After Lockdown Survey Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust Chief Executive Paul Wilkinson said:

Whilst we may now be heading into a period of further restrictions due to Covid-19 we felt it was important to capture peoples’ experience of and reflections on what was a pretty unique experience during the nationwide lockdown.
It is clear that many more people than ever before have appreciated a connection with nature and are keen to see measures that support nature’s recovery and limit the impacts of climate change but we should also recognise that access to nature isn’t as easy for everyone – particularly people without private gardens, those living in densely populated urban areas and people with disabilities or health issues.
Paul Wilkinson, Chief Executive
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

Rather than the ‘build, build, build’ rhetoric that has so far been the focus of Government pronouncements as to how the country must change and respond to the pandemic Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust is calling on the government and local decision makers to recognise the value of nature and greenspace to our health, wellbeing and our economy.

The pandemic has affected everyone’s lives and hit many families particularly hard but the Trust, a registered charity formed in Nottingham back in 1963, feels that the economic pressures resulting from the pandemic must not lead to rushed decisions focussed on outdated approaches.

Paul explained:

It is clear that the pandemic will hit the economy but as we only have a limited time in which to respond to the climate ecological crises we were already facing it is vital that investment decisions designed to boost the economy don’t limit nature’s recovery or undermine efforts to tackle climate change.
We have a real opportunity to ‘build back better’ not just pay lip service to the idea. Investment should be focussed on measures that support green jobs, green infrastructure and that underpin our health and wellbeing.
Paul Wilkinson, Chief Executive
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust