Countryfile sparks race row after claiming people from BAME backgrounds feel unwelcome in the countryside because it is a ‘white environment’

  • The BBC programme aired an episode based on DEFRA report from last year
  • It found some ethnic groups felt UK’s national parks are a ‘white environment’ 
  • Host Dwayne Fields said organisations ‘working to get more diversity outdoors’ 
  • Episode sparked debate on Twitter, with Laurence Fox calling to defund BBC

Countryfile has sparked a race row after claiming people from BAME backgrounds feel unwelcome in the countryside because it is a ‘white environment’.

The BBC programme broadcast an episode last night in which TV presenter Dwayne Fields investigated the issue, based on independent research from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The government’s report, released last year, said some people from BAME communities, alongside white people, felt the UK’s national parks are a ‘white environment’.

The BBC programme aired an episode last night in which Dwayne Fields, above, investigated a DEFRA report saying some ethnic groups felt the UK’s national parks are a ‘white environment’

In the segment, Mr Fields walks through Epping Forest in Essex and says: ‘When I talk to people from the black and minority ethnic community, it’s clear that they don’t view the UK countryside as somewhere that’s for them, it’s not theirs, they don’t belong there, and I want to find out why.

‘As it happens, I am not the only one. Last September, an independent review of England’s national parks was published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. 

‘They found that the countryside is seen by both Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups, and white people alike, as being very much a ‘white’ environment.

‘The review also concluded that if that is true today, then the divide is only going to widen as society changes.’

He continued: ‘Our countryside will end up being irrelevant to the country that actually exists.

‘I’m a Scout Ambassador and I work with the National Trust. Both organisations are working to get more diversity into the outdoors.’

BBC Countryfile tweeted: ‘While Dwayne Fields found solace in the landscapes of the UK and beyond, many in Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups see the countryside as being a white environment.’

The post triggered a debate amongst Twitter users, with one commenting: ‘Oh BBC Countryfile why oh why? I don’t usually bother but this is ridiculous. Britain is historically populated by white people. 

The episode sparked a race row amongst Twitter users, with Laurence Fox branding the BBC ‘corrupt’ and using the hashtag #DefundTheBBC 

‘What on earth is stopping anyone, regardless of the colour of their skin, enjoying nature? No one is stopping anyone. Utter cobblers.’

Outspoken actor Laurence Fox branded the BBC ‘corrupt’ and used the hashtag #DefundTheBBC – a movement claimed to have been started by University of Glasgow student James Yucel.

He posted: ‘Having lived in the countryside for 10 years, I’m fairly confident nature doesn’t give a f**k what colour you are.

‘Defund this rubbish. Nature isn’t racist. Get a grip. #DefundTheBBC.’ 

In a separate tweet, he added: ‘The BBC is a corrupt organisation that sows division between friends. If they want to compete for our appreciation, they should do so within the free market.’ 

TV presenter Mr Fields addressed the debate while other social media users praised the episode for ‘highlighting’ the issue, following last night’s segment

But others praised the report, with a social media user posting: ‘Missed this week’s show, but will be sure to catch up on iPlayer. The response on Twitter shows why this is such a huge issue. Thanks for highlighting.’

Another wrote: ‘The countryside may be passive, but a lot of the people living around/in it are not.’

Adventurer Mr Fields later addressed the debate, explaining: ‘Anyone saying the countryside is open to everyone, is absolutely right! 

‘The piece looked at a Defra report that highlighted some of the barriers that people from the BAME community ‘felt’ was preventing them from enjoying the countryside.’

A BBC spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Countryfile based the segment on an independent DEFRA report published last September and we felt it was important to examine such issues now more than ever, particularly in light of recent events.’ 

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