The coronavirus crisis has shown that people need nature, but many have suffered without access to wild places during lockdown. British Canoeing has signed up to support the Wildlife and Countryside Link (WCL) in its Grow Back Better campaign to kick-start a green recovery.
British Canoeing, alongside Surfers Against Sewage, The National Trust, The Wildlife Trusts and other WCL members, have provided Defra and the Treasury with 300+ ‘shovel-ready’ projects in which the government could invest now to get people into work after the lock down and kick-start a green recovery from Covid-19.
The Wildlife and Countryside Link’s Rooting Recovery in Resilience document outlines some proposals, which includes the creation of Natural Health Service.
"The projects add up to around 10,000 jobs, at least 200,000 ha of habitat created or restored and hundreds of species protected. Many of them also focus on enhancing nature in the most deprived areas of the country and connecting communities with the benefits it provides.
"The UK’s green spaces are estimated to produce health and wellbeing benefits for people worth over £30 billion a year . As an island nation, blue spaces, such as rivers and coasts also provide a myriad of benefits to mind and body .
"The Covid-19 pandemic is further proof that nature is a vital source of joy and solace in times of need, with 60% of people saying they are now more appreciative of their local nature than they were before lockdown .
"However, not everyone benefits equally from nature’s positive effects on physical and mental health and wellbeing. Access to nature is far worse for people in deprived areas and places with higher proportions of minority ethnic groups, and this lack of accessible natural space – whether it be public parks, nature reserves or private gardens – exacerbates health inequalities. Covid-19 has thrived on these inequalities, with death rates twice as high in deprived areas.
"Researchers estimate that more green space would take a huge financial burden off health services, estimated at £3 billion per year , potentially saving over 1,328 lives per year . These spaces, created through new Natural Health Service, should be accessible, safe, ecologically functional and attractive to the local community. They should be connected by ‘stepping stones’ of nature throughout the town or city, such as street trees and green rooves, to ensure maximum ecological functioning and delivery of health and wellbeing benefits.
"Green and blue spaces should incorporate active transport infrastructure, such as walking and cycling routes, and encourage active engagement with nature in these spaces, through volunteer programmes and community food growing projects – all of which are proven to boost mental and physical health and local economies."
There are a number of ways British Canoeing members can get involved. To find out more or to see how you can get involved please head to https://www.wcl.org.uk/green-recovery.asp
A virtual lobby to parliament is set to be held on 30 June details of which can be found here.
 MENE 2018-19