A three-year research project carried out by the RSPB and the University of Essex has found that only one in five children living the UK are sufficiently “connected to nature”.
The RSPB believes that this disassociation between nature and modern children’s lives is one of the biggest threats to wildlife and its habitats in Britain.
Only 21% of children interact with wildlife and nature at a level that is deemed realistic and achievable by the study.
With 60% of wildlife in decline according to an RSPB report back in May, it is feared that apathy amongst younger generations could have a knock-on effect for the future of the animals, plants and people of Britain.
Unveiling the findings, RSPB Chief Executive Dr Mike Clarke, urged governments and local authorities to help get young people to connect with nature in the hope that they will grow to care enough to save the environment as they get older.
He said: “Nature is in trouble, and children’s connection to nature is closely linked to this. The recent State of Nature report shows that nature in the UK is being lost at a dramatic rate. We can all take action to put nature back into childhood, to ensure young people have better lives and a better future.”
Over the last 10 years, there has been much research into the varied benefits that contact with nature can bring children. Interaction with the countryside has been shown to have a positive impact on everything from education, to physical and emotional wellbeing and social skills, leading to a call from the British Heart Foundation to see a return to ‘traditional outdoors children’.
There are countless clubs and activities for children and families to get involved with nature. Here are just five examples of events taking place around the country in the coming weeks. Booking is essential for all events. Follow the links for prices, contact details and booking information.
Bedfords Nature Rangers
Friday 18 October, 7pm-9pm
Bedfords Park Visitor Centre, Havering-atte-Bower, Essex
Join Bedfords Park’s new nature club. Meeting every fortnight the group will learn all about wildlife by exploring the outdoors at night, with different activates each session. Children must be over 8 and may be left unaccompanied. Dress appropriately.
Tuesday 22 October, 10am-12 noon
Fun for youngsters from ages 5-15 as they and their accompanying adult learn about wildlife and the countryside around them. Activities include jellyfish surveying, minibeast hunting, bird box building and tree planting.
Autumn Fun Day
Saturday 26 October, 1pm-4pm
Mangor Marsh, near Newport
An afternoon of family fun in celebration of Gwent Wildlife Trust’s 50th anniversary that includes following a nature trail around the reserve and an opportunity to take part in some autumn-inspired crafts.
Hootingly Haunted Halloween
Saturday 26 October, 2pm-4pm
Anglian Water Birdwatching Centre, Rutland Water Nature Reserve
Come along to Rutland Water and carve a scary pumpkin, make a magical broomstick and discover what goes on in the animal world under the cover of darkness by dissecting owl pellets to find out what they eat. Fancy dress is not compulsory, but there will be a prize for best costume.
Children’s Wildlife Watch – Treemendous Trees
Saturday 30 November, 10am-12 noon
Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Foxley Wood
Bring your wellies as you trek through the trees in Foxley, Norfolk’s largest remaining piece of ancient woodland. Become tree detectives by learning to spot the differences between species, playing games and have a go at making some natural crafty Christmas decorations.
Check the Wildlife Trusts’ website for more information on activities and events in your area by clicking here. There is something for everyone in all areas of the country.