Public Attitudes to Biodiversity in the North East

As part of the the research almost 1000 people from across the North East were interviewed. Those who took part were a respresentative sample of the region’s population.  A copy of the final report can be downloaded here along with an appendix of open-ended responses.

The main findings of the report were:

  • Considerably fewer respondents can recall the term biodiversity compared to other environmental terms.  Only 9% could, unprompted, give a correct definition of the term.
  • There was considerable confusion amongst respondents as to the meaning of biodiversity. When asked to chose one of four possible meanings of the term 33% of respondents confused it with ‘biodegradability’ and only 31% correctly understood that biodiversity referred to the variety of living things.
  • There is a positive attitude towards the natural environment but in a largely passive way. People are less inclined to think about biodiversity or believe they can help stop the loss of biodiversity.
  • Over half of respondents believe biodiversity has practical benefits and many of these could provide valid comments in support of this opinion.
  • The North East’s coastline is considered to be a particularly important natural asset – by two fifths of the sample.
  • Few respondents (11%) were satisfied that their local authority was doing everything it should to protect and enhance biodiversity.
  • People most frequently visit natural areas close to towns, and most likely, near where they live. However, over half of respondents had visited a large, wild open space, e.g. Kielder Forest, within the last six months.
  • Respondents were more likely to interact with the environment at home, with 73% having watched a TV programme about nature in the past month.
  • Those living in rural areas appeared more aware of the term biodiversity but urban dwellers provided responses that were more positive towards the natural environment.
  • Respondents aged 35 to 74, particularly those aged 55 to 64, demonstrated better awareness of and more concern for the natural environment. Respondents with a higher socio-economic status (A and B, compared with D and E) consistently illustrated a better understanding of and concern for environmental terminology and issues. They were also more likely to interact with the natural environment.