19th August 2020
Natural England has this week released an incredible storyboard overview of this incredibly important monitor of greenspace and people’s connections with it.
The Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment is a survey created and conducted by Natural England across the UK. Beginning in 2009, it has collected ten years of insight into outdoor recreation, pro-environmental behaviours, attitudes towards and engagement with the natural environment, surveying nearly 470,000 people.
With such a broad reach and pedigree, MENE has played a key role in Greenkeeper’s formulation, providing usage data which has massively informed our baseline demand model, and the resultant visitor number estimates we are able to generate to assess social value. As such, we already know how incredible this survey is, but its great to take a deeper dive into some of their findings.
- Natural environment visits have risen from 2.9 billion in 2009 to over 4 billion in 2019
- 25% of children spend time outside less than once a month
- Over 2 in 3 visits are undertaken within 2 miles of home
- Overall we are taking shorter (time) visits to nature closer to home, in urban greenspaces such as parks and woodlands.
MENE also looked to demonstrate the wellbeing benefits of greenspace in 2012, and worked closely with Greenkeeper partner the University of Exeter to understand and quantify this benefit. An approach we have furthered through the Greenkeeper tool methodologies.
‘Health and exercise’ as a reason for those within the lowest income areas of England visits has increased from 23% to 52% over the last 10 years. Inequality in access and use however, still abounds. Use by older people and ethnic minorities is significantly lower than other demographics, while our most affluent wards across England have five times as much green infrastructure than the most deprived 10%.
All of this data and the 10 year trends MENE has uncovered point to the huge and growing importance of urban greenspace for everyone living within our towns and cities. This is a fact we have sought to highlight and drive a governmental response to through our work with the National Trust and a recent call for £5.5bn investment in green infrastructure tackle these grey deserts in our towns and cities, and quickly.
We need to act now if we are the ‘build back better’ and ‘build back greener’, as we exit this pandemic. Communities can be built/supported while health and wellbeing benefits are secured and our carbon footprints reduced… all of which is vitally important if our towns and cities are to thrive and flourish for all, in the long term!
Author: Jenni Montgomery