Survey shows: Europeans have a broad conception of nature

13-12-2016 | News item

According to a recent survey, Europeans have a broad conception of nature. For them, anything from primeval forests, birds of prey and swamps, to forest plantations, garden plants and large crop fields is natural. City parks scored the lowest in the ‘naturalness’ ranking, although half of all respondents still considered them natural to some extent. In short, for most people, nature is almost everywhere. The survey was held in nine EU Member States: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The results from this survey were published today by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.

Europeans generally believe nature is worth preserving

Another result from the survey shows that there seems to be no nature conservation ‘fatigue’ among Europeans. Two-thirds of respondents do not think there is too much emphasis on nature conservation. Also, two-thirds state that governments are primarily responsible for the protection and management of nature. Most people appreciate nature more for its intrinsic value, such as wildness or biodiversity, than for its role in the creation of economic value. This preference for nature’s intrinsic value is strongest among higher educated people, city dwellers and young people. Nevertheless, people do think a broad spectrum of objectives for the management of nature areas is important, including – for example – in its contribution to flood prevention and the conservation of attractive landscapes.

Nature Outlook: inspiring EU nature policy

Although the attitude of citizens towards nature policies is surveyed regularly, only very few Europe-wide surveys have been carried out on how citizens see and relate to nature. In this survey – which was held in September 2014 – 9,000 respondents answered an online questionnaire. The survey was conducted as part of the Nature Outlook project by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and explores people’s perspectives on nature and motivations for becoming involved in nature-related actions. The project aims to provide an inspirational building block for a new EU Biodiversity Strategy beyond 2020. The Nature Outlook report itself will be published early 2017.