Demand that the UK Government invests in giving everyone equal access to nature

Demand that the UK Government invests in giving everyone equal access to nature

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Shariqa Zia started this petition to Boris Johnson (Prime Minister) and

My name is Shariqa Zia and I’m asking that the quantity, quality and accessibility of green space in the UK are increased to ensure fair and equal access to nature for everybody.

Through volunteering with ELHAP - ‘a magical adventure playground for children disadvantaged through disability and adversity’ -  I had the opportunity to work with members to tailor activities to the needs of every child. That was when I really began to understand the multitude of barriers every individual faces in terms of accessing nature and the negative implications of a lack of nature on a child's development.

Nature and green spaces have been proven to have incredible benefits for people's physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. From using nature for exercise, meeting with friends or simply enjoying the wildlife and biodiversity surrounding us, green space is of the essence to wellbeing. However living in a city means that one is more likely to not be within proximity of where one lives or works. It was found that 2.5 million people must walk greater than 10 minutes to access their nearest green space. Is this fair when we are aware of the profound benefits that even a mere tree can have on one's daily life?

The lack of access to nature doesn’t affect everyone equally - it is more strongly associated with those in society who are already marginalised in other ways, including (but not limited to) people from BAME/BIPOC communities, with disabilities, those with lower incomes, and younger people. The most important spaces for nature in urban areas (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) are also in a terrible state, with fewer than half of them in good condition. To overcome these barriers it is crucial that the quality of urban green spaces are improved and overall made safe for everyone to use. 

Additionally, amidst the pandemic, the use of parks and green spaces rose to 25% (May 2020 compared to May 2018), emphasising the need for an urgent investment in greening neighbourhoods, towns and cities and to refund cuts to parks and other public green spaces.

I work with an organisation called UK Youth for Nature and we are fighting for action on the loss of nature and wildlife in the UK. The Government has announced £40 million more money for conservation organisations and that will increase the areas of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. But we don’t just need more nature in our countryside, we need it in towns and cities too where those who are suffering from the consequences of being disconnected from it would benefit most. 

We are calling on the Prime Minister and the UK Government to invest in increasing equality of access to nature, and the quantity and quality of green space, particularly in urban areas. The other governments of the UK need to act too, but the UK Government 1-year Spending Review in November 2020 is the first big opportunity to make a difference.

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