Improving the Ethnic Diversity of Visitors to England’s Protected Landscapes
About the study
Research has shown that people from ethnic minority groups are less likely to visit National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – collectively known as protected landscapes. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have commissioned NatCen to carry out research into why this is the case and to explore ways of improving diversity of visitors. This important research is being carried out as part of Defra’s commitment to connect more people to the natural environment, laid out in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan (25 YEP).
What is the research about?
Research has shown that people from ethnic minority groups are less likely to visit National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) – collectively known as protected landscapes. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have commissioned NatCen to carry out research into why this is the case and to explore ways of improving diversity of visitors. This important research is being carried out as part of Defra’s commitment to connect more people to the natural environment, laid out in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan (25 YEP).
Why has this research been commissioned?
In 2019, the independent Landscapes review found considerable differences in the way that people from ethnic minority groups use National Parks and AONBs, compared with the White British population. For example, 20% fewer Visibly Minority Ethnic children go out into green spaces weekly compared to white, middle-class children.
This research project has been commissioned in response to these Landscapes review insights and in line with the 25YEP commitment to ensure that the natural environment can be enjoyed by everyone.
The findings of this research will be published, and made available to inform the environment sector - including Defra, National Parks and AONBs - as well as other interested stakeholders and members of the public.
What are the key aims of the research?
- Understand how people from ethnic minority groups experience and use these protected landscapes (National Parks and AONBs);
- Understand the barriers to people from ethnic minority groups visiting and using protected landscapes; and
- Develop suggestions for how to overcome some of these barriers, at both a local and national scale.
What does the research involve?
These questions will be addressed through a number of phases of research activity, with each phase feeding into the development of the next to build up the evidence base. The research will begin with a Stakeholder Workshop before conducting a Rapid Evidence Assessment, which involves a systematic search and rapid review of existing relevant evidence. The final phase will be primary qualitative research with ethnic minority groups to understand their experiences.
Taking part in focus groups and interviews
Why take part?
We are running a series of focus groups and interviews with people from ethnic minority groups, to explore their experiences of protected landscapes (National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and how experiences could be improved.
Defra will use the findings from the research to make protected landscapes more accessible to ethnic minority groups.
What will taking part involve?
- Taking part will involve participating in an online focus group, lasting approximately 90 minutes and hosted by a NatCen researcher.
- The focus groups will take place in the early evenings between mid-October and early-November 2021 using the video calling software Zoom.
- Each focus group will include up to seven participants, plus the NatCen researchers.
- After the focus groups, we will ask some people to take part in follow-up interviews. You do not have to take part in these, even if you have taken part in the focus group.
If you take part in a focus group or interview, you will be given £40 as a thank you for your time (on each occasion).
What will the discussions cover?
During the focus group you will take turns to speak about:
- Your views and opinions of protected landscapes
- Your experiences of visiting them, if any
- Any reasons you don’t visit more, or have ever visited
- Things that would encourage you to visit more
- Anything that needs to be in place to help you visit
There are no right and wrong answers, and you don’t need to prepare anything in advance, we just want to hear about your views and experiences. After the discussion, we will send you a leaflet with organisations who will be able to provide more information about the topics discussed.
Taking part in a follow-up interview
After the focus group, you may be invited to take part in a follow-up interview. These interviews will last up to 60 minutes and take place over video or telephone call with a NatCen researcher, in late-November or early-December 2021.
The interviews will explore similar topics raised in the focus groups but in more detail, as it will just be you and the NatCen researcher talking. For instance, we may ask you to describe in more detail a particular experience you had mentioned in the focus group.
You will only be contacted about the follow-up interviews if you have told the recruiter that you would be happy to take part. Even if you have originally said you are willing to take part, you can still change your mind later.
We only need to speak to a limited number of people for the follow-up interviews, so we may not be able to interview everyone who has said they’d be happy to take part.
Can I take part?
The ethnic minority groups we will be speaking to include people from Black and Black British communities, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities and Eastern and Central European communities.
To take part in the focus groups, we ask that you are comfortable talking in a group setting in English.
We will also be offering a limited number of interviews for Pakistani and Bangladeshi participants whose first language is not English. These interviews will be offered in Punjabi or Bengali.
You do not have to have visited protected landscapes to take part. If this is the case, we will ask you about the reasons for not visiting, and anything that would encourage you or help you to visit.
You do not have to take part, taking part is completely voluntary. If you do agree to take part, you can choose not to answer questions or talk about any experiences that you do not want to discuss.
How will the discussions be used?
With your permission the discussions will be audio recorded. All data will be stored securely, treated confidentially in line with GDPR (2018), and will only be available to the research team.
A short report covering key issues will be written up and provided to Defra. We will not include names or any other identifiable information. We will not tell Defra or anyone else who has taken part in the research. Views and any use of quotes will be anonymised.
For further information, please see the privacy notice.
Find out more
For anything not covered on here, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. One of the research team will get back to you to answer your query as soon as possible.