A wildlife charity has warned that the British countryside is a “racist colonial” white space.
Charity umbrella group Wildlife and Countryside Link made the claim in evidence provided to Parliament on racism and its influence on the natural world.
The group includes the RSPCA, WWF and National Trust.
A report by the group was sent to the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) for Race and Community, which had called for evidence on the links between “systemic racism” and climate change.
Charity umbrella group Wildlife and Countryside Link has made the claim
The Telegraph said the report claimed: “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 be engaging with them.”
It adds that “racist colonial legacies continue to frame nature in the UK as a ‘white space’.”
The report also claims that: “The perception that green spaces are dominated by white people can prevent people from ethnic minority backgrounds from using green spaces.”
It also makes broader claims about Britain and climate change, stating: “The UK’s role in the European colonial project has also driven the current climate and nature crises.”
The National Trust has come under fire for ‘being woke’
The charity group is led by Richard Benwell, the chief executive and a former Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate. Benwell worked as a policy adviser to the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs in 2018.
He said: “Nature should be for everyone to enjoy and to benefit from. Sadly however, the evidence shows that people of colour in the UK are more likely to live in areas with less green space and that are more heavily polluted, and at the same time are significantly less likely to visit natural spaces.
“There are multiple complex reasons behind this, as well as contemporary well-documented experiences of racism that people are still encountering.
“Access for all and addressing the barriers people are facing should be one of the guiding lights for all nature sites.”
The announcement was met with backlash on social media.
Conservative councillor for Hempstead & Wigmore Andrew Lawrence said: “This would be laughable if it wasn’t for the fact that this umbrella group covers some of our leading charities who are clearly gripped in some delusional psychodrama.”
Commentator Sam Schulman said: “I regret every £ I have given to the National Trust at its glorious sites in UK. I don’t mean give to historical nitwits who hate me.”
Former aide to Margaret Thatcher Nile Gardiner said: “Some of the most stupid comments of the year.”