Nation's knowledge falls short by a country mile: New Research Announced
11 July 2011
New research from The Prince’s Countryside Fund has revealed that Brits love the countryside yet are clueless about its scale and importance to the economy. The survey was conducted ahead of the first ever National Countryside Week from 11th – 18th July 2011 which will celebrate the British countryside and the people who take care of it.
The survey found that 93% of Brits value the countryside for relaxation, fresh air and peace and overwhelmingly agreed (94%) that it is important to protect the countryside. Yet at the same time we underestimate the value of the countryside to our economy. A staggering 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 £80bn2 a year, over three quarters of those surveyed (78%) incorrectly estimated it as less than £1bn. When questioned about what percentage of the UK’s total area is agricultural land, 60% thought it was less than half, when it actually makes up 75%.3 Participants were also stumped when asked to estimate the average salary of a farmer and how many miles of hedgerows and drystone walls there are in the UK.
Launched in July last year by HRH The Prince of Wales, The Prince’s Countryside Fund (www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk) is a unique collaboration of brands and businesses committed to caring for the people who take care of the countryside. To date, the companies involved in The Prince’s Countryside Fund have contributed over £1million and already nearly £500,000 has been given in grants to 13 projects throughout the countryside from Devon to Scotland. These include an apprenticeship scheme to train young people to become hill farmers in Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales, a community-run minibus in rural Shropshire, a Barnado’s project in Scotland, and the development of 50 new school farms.
During National Countryside Week, the next round of grants will be announced at The Great Yorkshire Show, where £250,000 will be given to more projects across the country. There will also be a range of promotions with the founding companies and the results of the photography competition to find the photo that best captures the Great British countryside.
HRH The Prince of Wales will also be undertaking a range of rural visits across the country. These will include visits to Cornwall, Devon and Yorkshire. Speaking in a video message to celebrate the Fund’s first anniversary, HRH said, “I am delighted to introduce the very first National Countryside Week, which happily coincides with the first anniversary of my Countryside Fund. I hope that it will provide us all with an opportunity to celebrate the people who make our countryside the very precious national asset that it undoubtedly is”.
Commenting on the first ever national Countryside Week, Mark Price, CEO Waitrose and Trustee of Prince’s Countryside Fund, said, “We hope to inspire the general public to recognise the importance of the countryside to the nation’s well being and the wider British economy; and to take time to appreciate it and the people who care for it. 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.”
Waitrose will be celebrating the week by offering savings on some of the grocery products that have stated their commitment to the countryside and supported the Fund. These include Ginsters (pasties), Jordans, Ryvita, Red Sky Crisps, Twinings, Country Life and McVities. In addition, Country Life butter has developed a website and free mobile phone app to help the public celebrate picnics. Users can uncover more than 600 recommended picnic locations across Great Britain (www.countrylifegreatbritishpicnics.co.uk)
The winner of The Prince’s Countryside Fund Photography competition will also be announced during National Countryside Week. Run in association with Archant Life, the best amateur photograph to capture the beauty of the Great British countryside will be selected by renowned landscape photographer Charlie Waite and trustees of the Fund. The winner will receive a private lesson with Charlie Waite plus photographic equipment from Olympus.
The projects which are supported by The Prince’s Countryside Fund focus on improving the sustainability of British farming and rural communities (targeting the areas of greatest need), reconnecting consumers with countryside issues; and supporting farming crisis charities through a dedicated emergency funding stream. In its first year the fund has helped an estimated 1,000 beneficiaries. Says Diane Spark, manager of UTASS one of our grantees; “As a result of our grant from the Fund, so far, we have managed to train forty-two farmers in computer skills. While most of our farmers are good with tractors and cattle and sheep, pressing little keys at a desk is not their strength and computer skills are essential for farmers today. Thanks to the Fund, farmers can make their businesses better.”
The Fund is also helping people like seventeen year old Evie, who wants to become a vet and who will receive the necessary training support through another Fund beneficiary, Lincolnshire YFC Rural Development Community Project “Lincolnshire is my home and I have lived amongst the farming community all my life. I want to work with livestock. Where better than Lincolnshire with its rich farming heritage”.
During the week the general public is encouraged to get outside and enjoy the UK’s diverse and beautiful countryside. Whether you enjoy a picnic with the family, a cycle ride or leisurely walk in the wood’s take the time to appreciate our natural surroundings and the people who take care of our greatest national asset.
Notes to Editors:
The Prince’s Countryside Fund, is a group of brands and business brought together by HRH The Prince of Wales to help secure a brighter future for British farmers and the people who live and work in our countryside. The Fund aims not only to support them, but also to raise awareness in Britain of the huge contribution the countryside makes to all our lives. From offering training and apprenticeships to young people, to supporting the development of school farms and providing vital emergency funding when crises hit rural areas, The Fund supports a variety of projects right across the country. To find out more, go to www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk.
Members of the general public who would like to help can make a donation over the counter at The Post Office or via our Text Service. Please text PCF to 70300 and a £3 donation will be made automatically to The Prince’s Countryside Fund.
The brands and businesses involved in The Prince’s Countryside Fund continues to grow and includes: Asda, Booths, Birds Eye, Dairy Crest, Duchy Originals, Ginsters, Hovis, Jordans, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, McDonalds, United Biscuits, Walkers, Waitrose. New supporters that have come on board in the last year are Barclays, Lloyds TSB, HSBC, Twinings, Barbour and Musto.
The research was carried out by Brandface on behalf of The Prince’s Countryside Fund in June 2011. 584 UK adults participated. The key findings are summarised below:
- 93% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that they value the countryside for relaxation, fresh air and peace
- 94% agreed or strongly agreed that it is important to protect the British countryside
- 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
Participants were also asked to estimate a number of figures relating to the countryside:
- 89% under-estimated the value of rural tourism to the UK. It is worth £14billion.
- Over three quarters under-estimated the amount of the UK that is agricultural land. The correct answer is 70% of total area.
- Three quarters either under-estimated the amount of people working in agriculture or didn’t hazard a guess. The correct answer is over half a million: 1.8% of UK workforce; 541,000, of whom 190,000 are employees and the remaining 351,000 are self-employed farmers, partners, directors and spouses.
- 80% thought farmers earned more than they actually do.
- Nearly 90% under-estimated the number of working farms in the UK. Correct answer: approximately 300,000 working farms
- 90% thought there was less than 100,000 miles of drystone walls when the correct figure is nearly double that – 180,000
- Over 80% thought there was less than 100,000 miles of hedgerows when actually there is five times that - 500,000
- In comparison, when asked how miles of motorway there is in the UK, 25% thought there was over 30,000 miles