The national survey on people and the natural environment
In 2009 Natural England, Defra and the Forestry Commission undertook the Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE) survey for the first time. The data enables Natural England, its partners and data users to:
- Understand how people use, enjoy and are motivated to protect the natural environment.
- Monitor changes in use of the natural environment over time, at a range of different spatial scales and for key groups within the population.
- Inform on-the-ground initiatives to help them link more closely to people’s needs.
- Evaluate the impact and effectiveness of related policy and initiatives.
- Measure the impact of and inform policy relating to the natural environment.
This report presents the findings for the fifth year of MENE fieldwork from March 2013 to February 2014. In addition to providing descriptive statistics on people’s use and enjoyment of the outdoors, new analysis of the survey findings was undertaken to look deeper at several key topics such as health and wellbeing, expenditure, and the gap between valuing the natural environment, and taking action to conserve it. In doing so, Natural England has broadened the range of experts involved in the production of the report to include specialists in economics, health, and marketing sciences. To view a post on last year’s click here: Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment
This survey aims to provide information about the relationship between people and the natural environment. Whilst the main focus of the survey is on visits to the natural environment, it also seeks to capture other ways of using or enjoying the natural environment such as time spent in the garden and watching nature programmes on television. The main focus of the survey is on leisure visits outdoors in the natural environment, away from home and private gardens. This could be anything from a few minutes to all day. These may include time spent close to a person’s home or workplace, further afield or while on holiday in England. Routine shopping trips or time spent in a person’s own garden are not included in the definition of a leisure visit in MENE.
- Around nine in ten members of the English adult population visited the outdoors at least once in the last twelve months, while around two-fifths had taken a visit within the last seven days.
- It is estimated that between March 2013 and February 2014, the 42.3 million adults resident in England took a total of 2.93 billion visits to the natural environment. The majority were taken to destinations within towns/cities (1.36 billion) or countryside locations (1.31 billion).
- Around a quarter of visits involved some form of expenditure – resulting in an estimated spend of £17 billion between March 2013 and February 2014.
- Parks in towns and cities were the most frequently visited destination type, accounting for 778 million visits.
- Walking was by far the most frequently undertaken activity. Half of visits (an estimated 1.5 billion visits) involved walking with a dog while around a quarter (an estimated 775 million visits) involved walking without a dog.
- Three-quarters of visits were less than two hours in duration, while two-thirds involved walking to the visit destination. Almost four-fifths were taken within two miles of the visit start point.
- Visiting the natural environment for health or exercise accounted for an estimated 1.3 billion visits to the natural environment between March 2013 and February 2014. Factors relating to a lack of time were most likely to be cited as reasons for not visiting more often or at all.
To read the full report click here.
A series of further outputs based on additional analysis of the MENE data are also available from: