You are here:


Image showing cyclists on a path through some countrysidePeople expect access to the countryside and urban green spaces for enjoyment as part of their civic rights and one of Defra’s key outcomes is:

People enjoy, understand and care for the natural environment

Over 1 billion visits are made to the English countryside every year, involving a wide range of recreational opportunities, contributing approximately £11 billion to the rural economy. Rresearch demonstrates the health and well-being benefits of regular exercise and benefits of access to open space.

Defra plays a critical role in the provision, management and regulation of the infrastructure which provides for this access, including;

  •  setting the legislative and policy framework for the rights of way system and wider access
  • sponsoring management of our finest countryside, including access opportunities, by the National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  •  sponsoring Natural England which has statutory responsibility to help access to the natural environment
  •  providing financial support for farmers and land managers which is increasingly oriented towards delivering public benefits, one of which is high quality, accessible countryside
  •  encouraging increased diversity of visitors to the natural environment by pursuing the Diversity Action Plan
  •  policy on caravan and camping exemption certificates

In this section:

Page last modified: 23 October 2008
Page published: 23 October 2008