Why we will always campaign for a countryside for all
Our vision is a countryside which is inclusive and accessible to everyone, regardless of background or identity.
A countryside that feels like ‘home’ for everyone, wherever they live and whoever they are. This vision isn’t new, and mirrors one of the original intentions of the Green Belt as outlined by Octavia Hill, who coined the term. Today this remains one of our core aims.
We know that significant barriers exist that prevent people from accessing, living in and visiting the countryside.
The starkest inequalities that exist are based on race, with children from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background half as likely to visit the countryside as white children. Our own participant-led research in 2021 found such barriers for people of colour range from cultural prejudice to socio-economic factors such as a clear lack of social and affordable housing in rural areas.
The environment sector is one of the least ethnically diverse sectors in the UK, despite so much of our work relating to areas where people are discriminated on behalf of their race – from air pollution to housing. That’s why we joined 33 other environmental and animal welfare organisations in signing a collective statement acknowledging our need to do more to address racism and improve diversity in all our work.
But this is not just a matter of race and ethnicity. It’s also an issue for young people, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ+ community too, for whom it can be a monumental challenge to live, visit or even just be themselves in the countryside.
This is why you’ll see all kinds of people represented in our photos and videos, and why we often talk about the need for a more diverse and inclusive countryside. It’s why we will always be respectful of different cultural observances and share the lived experiences of people who just want the countryside to feel safe and comfortable for them, too.
We want our members to join us in celebrating difference. Unfortunately, our efforts to present a countryside for all can be met with hostility. While this usually only comes from a minority of people, we refuse to tolerate discrimination of any kind. CPRE does not tolerate prejudice and hate. That’s why we will robustly deal with any hateful and/or discriminatory comments and emails. This is not just in solidarity with those who are marginalised in our society, but with our staff too, some of whom reflect the very communities that have been targeted.
Campaigning for a countryside for all ensures that as many people as possible get the opportunity to develop strong connections with our natural world, which needs protecting now more than ever. This means more of us can come together and collaborate to create a thriving countryside – for now, and for the generations to come. We are hugely grateful to all our CPRE supporters who stand with us, and we hope that you will continue to support us as we work towards a thriving, sustainable countryside for everyone. Thank you.