Nature visuals: diversity in images of England's green and natural spaces.

Published online
05 Aug 2022
Published by
Natural England
Content type

Smith, T. & Wang, S. & Latter, B. & Chapman, D. & Larkin, J.

Publication language
England & UK


The available library of images relating to nature in England currently inaccurately represents the diversity of both natural places in a changing climate and the communities engaging with them. Moreover, the images currently in circulation are unlikely to engage well beyond those already interested in 'nature'. This misses the opportunity both to engage a wide range of people on relevant issues, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, and to convey an equitable concept of inclusivity. Moreover, what images are chosen sends signals to an audience about what and who the communicator or organisation values. Throughout this review we encountered the expression that the outdoors is "for white people" and "for certain activities", signalling to many audiences that they should look elsewhere for activities and experiences if they do not fit the traditional stereotype of an 'outdoors person'. This challenge is aggravated by the comparatively small number of diverse or representative images of people in nature offered by most image libraries. In this report we consider the role of visual storytelling and we explore how images can reinforce known barriers to accessing the natural environment for a wide range of people. Where possible, we offer practical recommendations for moving beyond this and for ensuring that images are more inclusive.

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