Thursday, 5 November 2015

Every Child Wild - Making Nature Part of Growing Up

Across the world nature is under pressure from habitat loss, climate change, hunting, invasive alien species and diseases. We need people who are willing to stand up for our natural world and protect it for the future, not only for its own sake but for our sakes, for the beauty and interest it provides, the relaxation and the potential new cures for diseases.

Yet children, the next generation who should be the conservationists of the future, just aren't spending time in nature (according to a report from the Wildlife Trusts, 78% of parents are concerned that children don’t spend enough time interacting with nature and wildlife. If these children aren't interacting with the natural world then how will they care enough to protect it in the future?

I have to admit when I was growing up I wasn't allowed out by myself beyond our own garden and those of our closest neighbours. Yes it's a moderately sized garden, with a small, overgrown patch of trees and bushes at the bottom, but its not really wild (though admittedly the overgrown patch seemed much bigger when i was a child than it does today when I visit my parents!). Most of my excursions in the outdoors were supervised trips to local parks, the local woods and occasionally to other places.

I learned most of what I knew of nature from books and observations in the garden. Yet when I studied Botany at University I could recognise more wild plants than most other people on the course, most of whom had probably spent more time outdoors as a child than I had. And now I lead nature walks and volunteer outdoors with the Water of Leith Conservation Trust.

So I am perhaps proof that a protected childhood with little genuinely wild time outside isn't an obstacle to becoming a naturalist and conservationist. Having said that, it's a very worrying trend that children aren't being offered opportunities to spend more time outside, learning about nature. It's not only good for the future of nature that children learn to understand it, it's also good for the children themselves, in terms of offering opportunities for creative play, exercise and learning.

The Wildlife Trusts have therefore launched a new initiative #EveryChildWild to help reconnect children with nature. As part of this, they're encouraging people to blog on the issue. You can read their official bloggers' posts here and find out how to take part yourself too.

It's a great project and will hopefully help to encourage children and their parents out into the natural world. 

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks th other webpages where you can find out more.


Simon Douglas Thompson said...

I must write on this subject myself, after a couple of teenage scrap collector boys were filmed flytipping all the way around a local lake.

Magyar said...

... and the raccoon tilted its head to say: "thanks for stopping by, sometime soon, we'll see each other again." -my most recent post may answer any questions here-

Great article, Juliet_!
__My father was a hunter, I learned from him. My paternal grandparents were farmers in northwestern Connecticut, and all things hunted went into the pot; it was never an "Iconic" function. My father's tenet was, "never pull the trigger unless there is a need, you are they." I have never pulled the trigger, but I do so often slap mosquitos. My father taught me how to see into and beyond, and to value the wild.
__Simon, >flytipping< to me a new word I'll enter into my hand-write thesaurus.

Lowcarb team member said...

It is so important to encourage the young ... I will certainly have a look at the links you give, thank you.

All the best Jan

A Cuban In London said...

I agree with you. You do have to factor in parents from other countries relocating in the UK and how the new environment informs their choices. I had a very outdoors-y type of childhood growing up in Havana, but I did not feel I could trust my urban setting enough to allow my children to go out and play outside. Your points, however, are valid. We are denying children learning opportunities.

Greetings from London.

RG said...

All good words.

Anonymous said...

great project - I was allowed to wander wherever I wanted as a child, though I always stopped within about a self imposed 2-3 km radius, and liked to explore the local creeks and search for tadpoles with my brothers and playing in the local trees - not sure my Mum like it too much but everyone did back then.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Cuban - you make two good points there, it's tricky for immigrants to know how to negoatiate the new environment and the culture relating to the environment and if you're moving from rural to urban then you've got to deal with a whole lot of new obstacles and dangers that make it more difficult to get outside and enjoy nature.