We are not alone
Even though Covid-19 hasn't been eradicated, life would seem to be getting back to some kind of normal. But the question remains (and will undoubtedly be answered over the coming weeks) what will life be like until we get a vaccine - assuming we get one.
Perhaps more importantly, what have we learned from the lockdown when it comes to the environment we live in?
A recent YouGov survey, conducted on behalf of the RSPB, came up with some interesting, if not totally unsurprising, results. In a nutshell, they found that there was overwhelming support for the protection of nature and the increased accessibility to natural green space. Conversely, there was strong opposition to any reduction in spending on nature or the reduction in the emphasis on protecting nature. These results came regardless of age, social class or income and came from adults surveyed in England.
It would seem that 87% of those asked agreed that living closer to spaces rich in wildlife and nature is, or would be, an advantage during the virus outbreak. And 89% agreed increasing the amount of accessible green space will help improve people's general health. When it came to spending, only 10% of people were in favour of reducing the amount spent on nature. 6% disagreed that the Government should increase the number of nature-rich areas in the UK.
Maybe all these figures (and there are many more in the report) only tell us what most of us would have long suspected - that the majority of people value nature and that they also value spending time in close proximity to it. But what it does raise is the question, are we going to change our relationship with nature? Are we individually going to increase the time we spend with it? Has the lockdown opened our eyes to the wildlife that surrounds us? After all, 74% of people who responded to this survey say they noticed more nature during the lockdown.
Sadly what the survey also highlighted was the inequality in the access people have to natural green spaces, particularly in low-income households. Surely this is something the Government needs to address if it's to safeguard the wellbeing of everyone in society?
But what this survey does do is highlight just how many people feel that they benefit from nature and therefore it begs the question, where do we go from here? For those of us who are lucky enough to have a garden or shared green-space, maybe we need to look at ways to encourage more wildlife to visit it? If we have done all we reasonably can do maybe, we can ask questions of our local authorities regarding verges and other green areas. All too often these are repeatedly mown during summer months, whereas more enlightened councils are leaving these or replanting with native wildflowers. The transformation is amazing, and the benefit to pollinators cannot be overlooked. This is just one example of how changes to council practices can benefit nature and the wider community.
There is a lot we can all do, and what the results of this survey prove is that whatever steps we do take, we will not take them alone.
© Phil Pickin