Sharp fall in satisfaction with environment among Waikato residents

Twelve hundred and fifty Waikato people were questioned by the Waikato Regional Council in March and April 2019.

Seventy-two percent of those surveyed were either satisfied or very satisfied with their local environment – down from 92 percent in 1998.

The survey is carried out every three years. In 2016 the figure for public satisfaction was was 91 percent.

Forty-seven percent of people think their local environment has deteriorated.

The council’s social and economic science manager, Ruth Buckingham said this may be because there is an increase in concern and sensitivity about environmental issues facing the region.

”It’s related to a heightened awareness of what people are questioning.

“The 2019 data shows some significant changes about how Waikato residents perceive their environment and what areas they place value on.

”When we did the survey in 2016 it wasn’t appearing very much,” she said.

The most important environmental issues coming up in the latest survey focus on water pollution, both fresh water and marine water.

Seventy-one percent believe their household is doing everything they can to reduce waste; 89 percent would like to do more, but do not know how.

Ninety-one percent agree that individuals have a responsibility for waste reduction.

”Of real significance is that residents are demonstrating an increased awareness of how society will affect the environment in the longer term, with people starting to change their behaviour to reflect more sustainable practices in their homes.

”More people are taking more personal actions to protect the environment than in previous years, such as recycling of plastics, refusing plastic supermarket bags and reducing plastic packaging,” she said.

Eighty-one percent of those questioned believed the Waikato Regional Council should enforce rules and laws to make sure the environment is well looked after.

Ms Buckingham said the survey has shown up growing awareness and concern about climate change in the future and the impact it will have.

She said 5 percent recorded climate change as the single most important issue facing the Waikato region today.

”But when we asked what will be the biggest impact in 5 years’ time, 25 percent were saying climate change.

”The increased awareness is something for us to take notice of,” she said.