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English countryside declared "racist" and "colonial"


The English countryside is a 'racist, colonial' white space, wildlife charities have said.

The claim was made by Wildlife and Countryside Link, a group with 80 members including WWF, the RSPCA and National Trust.

The group said 'our policy recommendations ensure that all people have the right to a healthy natural environment – all people must have access to nature'.

But it added: 'Racist colonial legacies continue to frame nature in the UK as a ''white space'' and people of colour as ''out of place'' in these spaces and environmental sector.'

It continued: 'Cultural barriers reflect that in the UK, it is white British cultural values that have been embedded into the design and management of green spaces and into society's expectations of how people should engage with them.'

It said the perception that green spaces are dominated by whites can prevent people from ethnic minority backgrounds from using them.

The report suggested that to ensure ethnic minorities have better access to the countryside, it wants the Government to create a 'legally binding target for access to nature' – such as ensuring that everyone has a green space within a 15-minute walk from their home.

Last year the then Environment Secretary Therese Coffey promised that the 15-minute walk to the countryside would be government policy. But that has since been dropped.

The report also claimed: 'The UK's role in the European colonial project has also driven the current climate and nature crises.'

Charities directly supporting the report include the League Against Cruel Sports and The Countryside Charity, formerly called the Council for Preservation of Rural England.

Froglife and the Bat Conservation Trust also support the report, submitted to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Race and Community, chaired by Labour MP Clive Lewis.

It is not the first time the British countryside has been accused of being hostile to ethnic minorities.

The 'Hate Studies Unit' at the University of Leicester has launched an investigation into 'rural racism'.

The group Muslim Hikers has said rural areas were perceived as unwelcoming and off-limits to minority communities, while the University of Reading claims that the countryside is out of reach for non-whites as there is a 'threat of hostility' to them.