Yet from my work running a conservation travel company, I do know that spending time in nature might help us to develop a deeper appreciation for the natural world, and the necessity for its conservation.
A study published within the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that those that visit natural spaces weekly are more likely to have interaction in additional environmentally-friendly practices.
Because the scientist Robert Pyle famously put it: “Individuals who care conserve; individuals who don’t know don’t care. What’s the extinction of the condor to a baby who has never known the wren?”
The world over, many other countries encourage free roaming. Across various Scandinavian countries, the ‘Allemensratten’ law, translated directly as ‘All-Man’s right’, allows residents to freely access natural areas.
Sweden provides one such example. While the custom dates from medieval times, the law was passed into parliament in 1974, and enshrined within the Swedish structure in 1994. Authorities may even force landowners to remove any fence in place which has the only purpose of obstructing public access to a recreation area.
In neighbouring Scotland, law is about out in Section 1 of the Land Reform Act 2003 everyone has the precise to be on land for recreational purposes and to cross land for such purposes. That is colloquially often called the ‘right to roam’.
The identical can’t be said for England, where ancient laws exclude the general public from accessing the wealth of meadows, woodlands, rivers and forests. Indeed, getting caught wild-camping in England or Wales could see you lumped with a £2,500 tremendous.
There have been attempts to instill the freedom-to-roam law within the UK before. At the top of the Second World War, the Attlee government attempted to implement the Freedom to Roam law into law as a corollary of the NHS, an act that the land-owning House of Lords suggested was a step too far.
Today, the NHS is at breaking point, and Britain has lost almost half of its biodiversity since 1970. Time in nature serves our physical and mental health, and helps us to guard the natural world around us.
Given the boosted post-Covid public appetite for more time in nature, it’s time that the British government realized Attlee’s initial vision, and allowed Brits to roam freely within the country they call home.
As per probably the most recent ‘peace-pact’ with nature on the biodiversity focussed COP 15, perhaps it’s time that the British government allowed English and Welsh hikers to totally appreciate the attractive and diverse ecosystem that they’ve around them.
Enjoyment results in education, and that’s the first step to preservation. To guard the good English and Welsh countryside, people have to be allowed to enjoy it first.
Daniel Kaul is the founding father of Natucate, an agency specialised within the organisation of chosen projects for nature travel, wilderness experiences, voluntary work, internships and sabbaticals.