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Living Landscapes Public Dialogue

23 March 2021

The UK’s rural landscape is likely to change significantly over the coming years, as we seek to mitigate climate change and reverse nature’s decline while also responding to the needs of a growing population. This will have major implications for everyone in society, not only affecting people living in rural places, but those who live in cities, towns and suburbs as well.

People and iPad
Working with the public to understand their priorities for rural land use.

From the air we breathe, the water we drink and the price of our weekly food shop, the choices we make in how we use land – whether it is farmed, forested or managed for nature – will have repercussions for the economy as well as our health and wellbeing. Our management of the countryside will also have a direct impact on all aspects of the environment, including climate change, nature and risks of natural hazards like flooding, droughts or wildfires.

In order to better understand the public’s priorities for rural land, the Royal Society has commissioned Ipsos MORI to conduct a public dialogue, working with people from across the UK.

The findings shine a light on the ways in which individuals perceive and prioritise the different benefits we gain from rural land. It recommends ways in which policymakers and scientists might best communicate the links between global issues like climate change and the more localised views people tend to have of their own environment. It also highlights individuals’ misconceptions about rural land use and explores their preferences and red-lines for the future, providing scope for further dialogue and engagement.

The dialogue demonstrates that the public have trust in scientists in relation to environmental matters and recognise that it has a vital role to play in supporting policymakers and land managers to make the best choices for land use. It shows that there is public appetite for a bold vision for a future UK countryside which is sustainable, productive, and equitable for everyone.

The findings will contribute towards the Society's Multifunctional landscapes report.

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