Verulamium Park wildlife trust raises concerns over children’s lack of nature knowledge
- Credit: Matthew Roberts
Nearly 40 per cent of children aged between eight and 15 have never seen a hedgehog, a recent poll has revealed.
The results of the YouGov poll have raised fears that future generations will miss out on contact with nature because wild spaces are being carved up and replaced with housing and infrastructure.
Parents are concerned about their children’s lack of wildlife experiences according to the recent survey commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts, which operates its Herts and Middlesex branch from Verulamium Park in St Albans.
It found that a generation of children was growing up disconnected from nature, with just one in 10 ever playing in wild places, while 37 per cent have never seen a hedgehog.
Nearly 60 per cent of parents admitted their children spent a little less or a lot less time outdoors than they did. Also, 71 per cent of children had never seen a lizard in the wild in the UK and more than half had never seen a flock of starlings.
The findings are based on a survey of 4,224 adults, of whom 1,070 are parents of children aged 18 or under.
Wildlife experiences are limited in schools, with less than a quarter saying their school has an indoor nature display area.
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Rebecca Taylor, communications manager for the St Albans based branch, said: “Unfortunately, the results of our national poll illustrate that some children are missing out on contact with nature.
“This is partly due to changes in our everyday lives and partly due to diminishing opportunities; for example many natural habitats and wild spaces are being reduced to make way for housing and infrastructure.”
Sir David Attenborough, president emeritus of The Wildlife Trusts warned: “We will be physically, mentally and spiritually impoverished if our children are deprived of contact with the natural world. Contact with nature should not be the preserve of the privileged. It is critical to the personal development of our children.”
On the positive side, over 80 per cent of younger people had held a ladybird, and 95 per cent of children polled had visited a park with their parent, guardian or grandparent.
• Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, a local charity which has a network of volunteers managing a network of more than 40 nature reserves, is offering opportunities for children to enjoy nature through a range of events. See www.hertswildlifetrust.org.uk for details.