EPA survey shows 84 per cent of people say access to nature was important for mental health in 2020

Date released: February 12, 2021

  • 89 per cent of adults agree that the environment is a valuable asset to the people of Ireland
  • 84 per cent of people felt access to nature was important for their mental health in 2020
  • 54 per cent placed climate change as one of the top three environmental concerns facing Ireland
  • 3 in 5 adults used less fuel for transport during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report was accompanied by results of an EPA/Red C poll to measure attitudes toward the environment. This survey found that 89 per cent of adults agree that the environment is a valuable asset for the people of Ireland. In comparison to last year’s survey, this marks an increase of 2 per cent.

The value of the work of the EPA in protecting Ireland’s environment was highlighted by the survey finding that 84 per cent of people felt access to nature was important for their mental and physical health, in a year marked by the Covid-19 pandemic. The new research also highlighted that 4 in 5 people took steps to help protect the environment in 2020.

The 2020 Year in Review report highlights the progress achieved by the EPA on its remit in 2020. In terms of air quality, the EPA continued to strengthen the capacity and capability of the air quality network. With the addition of 14 stations in 2020, real-time monitoring has nearly trebled in Ireland since implementation of the programme began. The National Priority Sites for Enforcement continued to be a driving force for change, designating twelve sites as National Priority Sites in 2020.

Commenting on the report highlights, Laura Burke, Director General of the EPA said,

“It is extremely encouraging to see that so many people have personally taken steps to help the environment, as engaging the public on environmental issues is key to the EPA. This underlines the importance of the work we do throughout the year. The monitoring and reporting activities of the EPA remained in place, and even increased in many areas, despite the ongoing pandemic.
The EPA plays a key role, on behalf of the State, in monitoring threats, informing the public and enforcing regulatory measures and our Year in Review 2020 highlights progress in several areas including licensing and enforcement, and citizen engagement.

In 2020, in addition to our reports on waste, water, radon and air quality  we  published the most comprehensive look at Ireland’s environment to date, the State of the Environment Report, which provides a bedrock of research upon which future decisions on environmental protection and priorities can be based.”

The results of the EPA/Red C survey also showed that 3 in 5 adults used less fuel for transport during the pandemic, while the majority of the Irish population have started walking or cycling, considered buying locally produced goods and have increased recycling. In addition, 54 per cent said they placed climate change as one of the top three environmental concerns facing Ireland, with one third stating that it affects them personally.

Laura Burke concluded by saying,

“Now is the time for an overarching environmental policy position for Ireland - to be clear on our ambition to protect Ireland’s environment in the short, medium and long-term. Such a policy position would provide a national vision that all government departments, agencies, businesses, communities and individuals can sign up to, to play their part in protecting our environment. The EPA will continue to work with all stakeholders to place the environment at the heart of decision making, as these survey results clearly demonstrate that the environment is an asset that Irish people clearly value and should be protected and improved for all the people of Ireland.”

The EPA 2020 in Review report is available in Irish and English on the EPA website now, and the Red C survey is also available online. You can follow the EPA on Twitter, Linked In and Instagram through @EPAIreland where you can find up to date information on the Irish Environment.


Notes to Editor

Red C Opinion Poll:  The results are from an opinion poll of a Nationally Representative sample of 1,019 adults aged 18+ conducted online by RED C between the 3rd and 8th of December 2020.