1. Main facts and figures

  • 41.9% of people in England surveyed in 2015/16 said they had been to a green open space, or to the countryside or coast, in the previous 7 days

  • out of all ethnic groups, White people were the most likely to have visited the natural environment, and Asian people were least likely

  • over the previous 12 months, just under 60% of White people said they had visited the natural environment at least once a week, compared to about 40% of people from all other ethnic groups combined

Things you need to know

These statistics are estimates based on the sample of people who took part in the survey, and may not reflect the whole population.

Keep in mind when making comparisons between ethnic groups that all survey estimates are subject to a degree of uncertainty. This is because they are based on a sample of the population. The degree of uncertainty is greater when the number of respondents is small, so it will be highest for ethnic minority groups

To increase the reliability of the data, the analysis combines information taken from surveys carried out between 2009 and 2016. This means that references to visiting the natural environment in the ‘previous 12 months’ or the ‘previous 7 days’ could refer to visits which took place at any point during the time covered by these surveys.

Certain standard testing methods weren't used to determine whether observed differences between ethnic groups are statistically significant. However, commentary has been supplied for those findings where differences between ethnic groups are reasonably reliable.

Visits to the natural environment are measured by the Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE). This survey is commissioned by Natural England, with support from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Forestry Commission.

What the data measures

This data measures how many visits people make to the natural environment. The data is broken down by respondents' ethnicity, socio-economic group, and location (urban or rural).

The natural environment includes all green open spaces in and around towns and cities, as well as the countryside and coastline.

Visits can last for anything from a few minutes to all day. They may include time spent in nature close to a person’s home or workplace, further afield, or on holiday in England. Time spent in household gardens is not included.

Respondents were aged 16 years and over. The survey asked whether they had visited the natural environment in the last 7 days.

They were also asked how often they had visited the natural environment in the last 12 months, from the following options:

  • at least once a week
  • less frequently
  • not at all
The ethnic categories used in this data

The ethnic categories used are taken from the Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE) survey. These are:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • Chinese
  • Mixed
  • White
  • Other

For data analysed both by ethnicity and by socio-economic group or urban/rural location, the number of people surveyed (the ‘sample size’) was too small to draw any firm conclusions about specific or broad ethnic categories. Therefore, the data is broken down into the following 2 broad categories:

  • White – White ethnic groups (including White British and White ethnic minorities)
  • Other – all other ethnic minorities

2. By ethnicity (last 7 days)

Percentage of people who visited the natural environment in the previous 7 days by ethnicity
Ethnicity %
All 41.9
Asian 25.7
Black 26.2
Chinese 27.6
Mixed 38.8
White 44.2
Other 30.2
Unknown 37.1

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • overall, 41.9% of all adults in England had made at least one visit to the natural environment in the previous 7 days

  • people from the Asian ethnic group were least likely to visit the natural environment (at 25.7%), and those from the White ethnic group were most likely to (at 44.2%)

3. By ethnicity and socio-economic group (last 7 days)

Percentage of people who visited the natural environment in the previous 7 days, by ethnicity and socio-economic group
Ethnicity Higher and intermediate managerial Supervisory and junior managerial Skilled manual workers Semi and unskilled manual workers
% % % %
White 54.7 46.8 41.7 32.7
Other 35.0 28.4 24.4 22.6

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • overall, people working in higher and intermediate managerial jobs, in either ethnic group, were more likely to visit the natural environment than those in other socio-economic groups

  • White people working in higher and intermediate managerial jobs were the most likely group to visit the natural environment (at 54.7%); semi and unskilled manual workers from other ethnic groups were the least likely to (at 22.6%)

4. By ethnicity and type of location (last 7 days)

Percentage of people who visited the natural environment in the previous 7 days by ethnicity and type of location
Ethnicity Urban Rural
% %
White 42.7 50.8
Other 27.0 40.3

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in both urban and rural areas, White people were more likely to have visited the natural environment in the previous 7 days than people from all other ethnic groups

  • the Other ethnic group saw a bigger difference between rural dwellers and urban dwellers than White people – the difference in visits between the groups was 13.3 percentage points for people from Other ethnic groups, and 8.1 percentage points for White people (with rural dwellers most likely to visit the natural environment)

5. By ethnicity (last 12 months)

Percentage of people who visited the natural environment in the previous 12 months, by ethnicity and frequency of visit
Ethnicity At least once a week Less often Never
% % %
All 55.8 not collected not collected
White 58.4 33.5 8.1
Other 39.9 46.9 13.2

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • overall, 55.8% of adults in England said they had visited the natural environment at least once a week over the previous 12 months

  • 39.9% of people from the Other ethnic group said they had visited at least once a week, compared to 58.4% of White people, a difference of 18.5 percentage points

  • 13.2% of people from the Other ethnic group said they had not visited the natural environment at all in the previous 12 months, compared to 8.1% of White people – a 5.1 percentage point difference

6. Methodology

The survey involves weekly waves of interviewing on the TNS in-home Omnibus Survey, with respondents asked about visits taken in the 7 days preceding the interview.

In each wave, interviews are undertaken with a representative sample of the English adult population (aged 16 and over) with a sample of at least 800 achieved across at least 100 locations. In each year included in this analysis, between 45,000 and 49,000 people were interviewed, resulting in a total sample of just over 326,000 respondents.

The MENE weighting system is applied to the sample to provide estimates of the total volume of visits taken to the natural environment by the English adult population. Weighting provides results representative of the adult population and the visits they have taken over the study period.

Each month’s data is weighted on the basis of:

  • age and sex (for example, males 16 to 24, females 85+)
  • area of residence
  • social grade
  • presence of children in the household
  • sex and working status (for example, male full-time)
  • presence of a dog in the household
  • urban/rural residence

Respondents are asked a range of questions about visits to the natural environment over the previous 7 days.

The socio-economic classifications used are:

  • A: High managerial, administrative or professional
  • B: Intermediate managerial, administrative or professional
  • C1: Supervisory, clerical and junior managerial, administrative or professional
  • C2: Skilled manual workers
  • D: Semi and unskilled manual workers
  • E: State pensioners, casual or lowest grade workers, unemployed with state benefits only

Social grade is a classification system based on occupation and it enables a household and all its members to be classified according to the occupation of the ‘household reference person’.

The household reference person is the person in whose name the dwelling is owned or rented or who is otherwise responsible for the accommodation.

MENE uses a sampling approach which involves the weekly selection of around 100 locations throughout England.

The survey methodology could under-represent those types of people less likely to be available when fieldwork is undertaken, including regular recreation participants who are generally less likely to be at home. To reduce this potential bias, interviewing is conducted at different times of day and on different days of the week.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Results are not published for an ethnic group when they're based on fewer than 100 visits.

Rounding

All percentages are given to 1 decimal place.

Related publications

Q&A: Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE): The national survey on people and the natural Environment (PDF)

Annual Report from the 2013-14 survey

Quality and methodology information

7. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Natural England

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

The Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE) survey provides trend data for how people use the natural environment in England. The data enables researchers and policymakers to:

  • understand how people use, enjoy and are motivated to protect the natural environment
  • monitor changes in use of the natural environment over time
  • help link on-the-ground initiatives more closely to people's needs
  • measure the impact of, and inform the development of, policy relating to the natural environment

8. Download the data

Visits to the natural environment - Spreadsheet (csv) 4 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, NS-SEC (socio-economic group), value, denominator