We face a climate emergency, catastrophic nature loss, rising obesity levels, a mental health crisis and widening health inequalities. Enabling more people to walk and be in contact with nature can help tackle these challenges.The Covid-19 outbreak, and the necessary restrictions on movement and outdoor activity, have brought into sharp focus just how important it is for people to be able to connect with nature as part of their daily lives.
Whether it’s a city park or a National Park, a local footpath or the England Coast Path, our paths and green spaces encourage people to get outside and get active. They improve our health and happiness and help us relax and unwind. They are where we spend time with family, feel close to nature and connect to our history and heritage. But access to the natural environment for everyone is far from guaranteed. Action at a national level is needed to bring the benefits of nature to more people. That will take political leadership, ambition and investment.
Opportunities and threats
The access rights we enjoy today are founded on laws and policy that have developed over decades. We want to build on these strong foundations to ensure that more people can get outdoors and benefit from the experience. This means being alert to both the opportunities and threats for public access in forthcoming legislation and national policy.
In November, the Agriculture Act received Royal Assent. This will underpin a new regime of financial support for farmers – known as Environmental Land Management. With agriculture accounting for 70 per cent of land use, it is vital that this funding protects and enhances access to the countryside.
Outside of the EU, new legislation is being prepared to protect and improve the natural environment. This must also enable more people to access and benefit from improved connections with nature.
From walkers to photographers to micro adventurers, find out why people want to keep paths open, and let us know why you want to protect paths.
Agriculture is a devolved issue, and the situation across the nation varies. Find out more below: