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Posted by: Cain Blythe - CEnv MIEMA MIEEM MSc BSc (Hons) on 13/02/2013

Natural England is working to improve access to the natural environment for a range of social groups stating that “everyone should have access to a good quality natural environment.”

The level of access to natural environments for various social groups has been investigated in the Natural Environment White Paper (2011). This not only looks at who can access natural environments but also the effects of the natural environment and how it can contribute to overall health and wellbeing.

The paper has offered a range of recommendations to ensure that a number of people can feel the full benefit of being in a natural environment including:

  • People who live in deprived areas
  • Those who suffer from physical and mental health issues
  • The elderly
  • People from ethnic minority backgrounds


Natural England’s investigation into this has allowed them to work with a number of partners (including the volunteer and heritage sectors) in order to improve access and allow people to feel the physical and mental benefits of natural environments.

Research has shown that more exposure to the natural environment can reduce childhood obesity as well as allowing them to gain a more positive sense of place and improvement in mental health issues. The difficulty is that those that live in urban areas do not tend to go out to these areas as much and when they do it is often for functional purposes rather than pleasure.

It is also worth remembering that this can help the adult population as well. For example the elderly population are less likely to go out in urban areas and this is more likely to add to a sense of isolation. By contrast those that go outside and spend time in rural areas are more likely to feel happier and better adjusted. This is especially true with familiar natural environments such as favourite parks, as these often have associations with fond earlier memories.

In effect the paper concludes that for a lot of these groups the benefits are similar. The idea of being “at one with nature” may seem clichéd but this is often the feeling that emerges and it is worth encouraging as much as possible. In short this is something that should be pursued in order to help people positively in physical, mental and emotional terms.

Ecosulis specialises in designing and creating habitats that benefit both people and wildlife. 

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Categories: Habitat Creation
Tags: habitat creation | habitat restoration | Natural England | natural habitats
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