Tuesday, 12 July 2011 16:27

Countryside undervalued - survey

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Countryside undervalued - survey

MOST people underestimate the contribution made by the countryside to the national economy, reveals a study.

People love the countryside but are clueless about its scale and importance to the economy, according to research for the Prince's Countryside Fund.

The survey was conducted for National Countryside Week (11-18 July), which celebrates the British countryside and the people who care for it.

Some 93% of British people value the countryside for relaxation, fresh air and peace and 94% agree it is important to protect the countryside.

But 80% of people surveyed were at least 90% wrong when asked to estimate the countryside's value to the economy.

While its actual value in pounds is £80bn a year, over three quarters of those surveyed (78%) incorrectly estimated it as less than £1bn.

Launched last year by Prince Charles, the countryside fund brings together brands and businesses to raise money for rural causes.

To date, nearly £500,000 has been given in grants to 13 projects throughout the countryside from Devon to Scotland.

These include a community-run minibus in rural Shropshire, a Barnado's project in Scotland, and the development of 50 new school farms.

Waitrose chief executive and fund trustee Mark Price said he hoped National Countryside Week would inspire more people to appreciate rural areas.

"All the companies that have partnered with the fund have a special connection to the British countryside through the products and services they make or sell."

Other findings include:

- 90% agreed or strongly agreed that the British countryside makes them feel happy

- 54% agreed or strongly agreed that they are taking more holidays in the UK than they used to

- 89% under-estimated the value of rural tourism to the UK. It is worth £14billion.

The research was conducted by Brandface during June 2011 among a sample of 584 adults in the UK.

Donations to the Prince's Countryside Fund can be made over the counter at the Post Office. Alternatively, a £3 donation can be made by texting PCF to 70300.

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