New survey reveals overwhelming support for a kinder, greener and wilder future for Hampshire and the Island

The lockdown has had a dramatic impact on people’s lifestyles and there are a number of behavioural changes that people are keen to maintain, according to new research with almost 600 local people by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents claim they will drive less than they did before, a similar proportion (69%) felt they would be more likely to help neighbours, and more than eight out of ten (82%) say they are more likely to buy from local businesses and farms.

The survey revealed an overwhelming appreciation of the importance of nature and local green spaces in lockdown. Almost everyone (97%) agreed that nature has been important for relieving stress during this difficult time, three quarters (75%) saying they would be more likely to spend time gardening than they did prior to the pandemic, and nearly nine out of ten (89%) wanting to spend more time in nature than before. Nearly the same amount (85%) claim they are more likely to help wildlife where they live.

This new-found appreciation for nature was also reflected in what lessons people thought employers and governments should learn from the current crisis. There was a near-unanimous (98%) agreement that the Government should follow a green model of economic recovery.

Furthermore, 99% of respondents agreed that Government should make sure there are accessible green spaces in urban environments and new developments, 97% support steps to take the pressure of nature locally – such as leaving areas of parks and verges uncut and reducing pesticide use. 

Nearly nine out of ten (87%) stated that employers should ensure that staff have access to nature and a similar proportion wanted to see them make more use of digital meetings (91%) and encourage home working (89%).      

Commenting on the findings, Debbie Tann, Chief Executive at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, said: “We are really pleased that so many people are valuing and appreciating nature during these very challenging times.  We know that nature is vital for our health, wellbeing and for our very survival.  While we have witnessed some signs of wildlife enjoying the space to breathe over the past few weeks, we are acutely aware that the climate and ecological crises are still very much with us. 

“It’s encouraging that local people are keen to stick with some of the habits that will help nature recover – such as driving less and looking after wildlife where they live.  There is also a clear message for governments, local policy makers and businesses – people want to balance the needs of people and planet better and we must now ‘build back’ in a way that creates a healthier, stronger and wilder future.” 

In response to the climate and ecological emergency, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust launched their ‘Wilder 2030’ plan at the end of last year, calling for a third of land and sea to be given for wildlife, as well as measures to reduce the pressure on nature in the wider countryside and urging many more people to take action for nature’s recovery. The Trust is now pushing for Green Recovery plans for the two counties, ensuring that investment is made in vital local natural resources.