On 27th May, RSPB NI, alongside 40 signatories from business, charity and academia, wrote an open letter urging the First Minister and deputy First Minister to put health and wellbeing, climate action and nature protection at the heart of decision-making. Now, a new opinion poll shows that the people of Northern Ireland back calls for a Green Recovery.

Darkley Forest Park in Co. Armagh. Image credit: Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland
Darkley Forest Park in Co. Armagh. Image credit: Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland

Your opinion matters

Many of us want to protect our wild spaces and species, but it can be hard to know what actions to take to make a difference. Giving your voice to nature really does help. Your opinion matters, and by sharing your views on policies which protect nature, you can influence decision-makers to act.

Nature has helped to restore so many of us during the COVID-19 crisis, and right now it needs our help more than ever. The climate and ecological emergency is still a very real and urgent threat and the UK remains one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. During the last 50 years, over 40 million birds have vanished from UK skies and the State of Nature 2019 report found that one in five species in Northern Ireland is at risk of extinction.

Without our collective help, nature will continue to suffer. But as the Northern Ireland Assembly begins to implement plans to recover the economy from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we have a huge opportunity to call for a relief effort that recovers nature too.

Strong support for a Green Recovery

That’s why RSPB NI commissioned market research company, LucidTalk, to conduct an opinion poll on the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on public attitudes towards nature in Northern Ireland:

• 74% of respondents agree there should be new laws to better protect nature
• Three out of four people have appreciated access to local green spaces since lockdown restrictions began
• Over 50% are now more inclined to vote for a political party that prioritises investment in nature-rich green spaces

The research shows a clear link between public opinion and the open letter’s call to increase space for nature and people and to strengthen nature’s protections as part of a Green Recovery.

Opinion poll results reinforce asks of green recovery campaign

Another RSPB survey conducted pre-lockdown also helps to reinforce the Green Recovery asks. The February 2020 opinion poll reveals that:

• 83% of respondents want Northern Ireland to have an independent Environmental Protection Agency
• 74% are in favour of a Climate Change Act in NI
• 68% agree that NI should have a target to reach net zero emissions by 2045

United voices for nature

The decisions the government makes as we emerge from lockdown will affect our environment and community for decades to come. Thanks to our united voices, we can clearly demonstrate to the NI Executive that we want policies and investments that benefit nature and climate, as well as people, and we will continue to share this important message and research to ensure our calls are heard.