The IGNITION project started from the idea that green and blue space, in the form of parks, meadows, ponds, swales and other nature-based solutions such as trees, green facades and roofs and sustainable urban drainage systems, offer multiple benefits and need to be enhanced in Greater Manchester. However, only some of their benefits are known and valued by people, local decision-makers, and public and private investors. This could be why comparatively few nature-based solutions have been applied across the municipalities and why technical infrastructure with impervious, covered areas and concrete, steel and glass constructions have been preferred. IGNITION has built up an evidence base on the specific benefits of nature-based solutions. In a fun quiz during a webinar presenting the evidence base, even experts more familiar with the topic could only guess on the extent of the benefits of nature-based solutions. If this is the case, then how would non-experts like citizens value greenspace and nature-based solutions?
The project’s citizen survey was designed to support citizens’ engagement by enhancing their awareness and knowledge on the functionality and benefits of nature-based solutions. This survey would be used as a basis to engaging citizens in co-design nature-based solutions for their area. Between November 2019 and January 2020, the project ran the survey to learn more about citizens’ understanding of nature-based solutions, their wants and preferences. A total of 2,065 participants provided their answers. Despite not yet being aware of all the potential benefits of nature-based solutions, survey participants valued them highly. For example, 98% of the survey respondents would like to see more greenspaces in Manchester city centre, which 78% perceived as not at all green.