Children matter to nature conservation. Not so much, as Martin discussed last week, whether or not they are picking (or trampling on) bluebells, but whether they are out there in the woods and fields at all.
There’s been a lot of discussion in recent years of ‘nature deficit disorder’ – people’s physical and psychological health suffering through lack of contact with the natural world. Somehow giving it a label like that makes it seem that the cure must be as over-complicated as the name. But it’s simple really.
I was not a Gerald Durrell type of child, roaming alone outdoors from morning till night and bringing home all manner of wild creatures to terrorize my family (although now I think about it, that sounds like fun…), but we did go for lots of fun family walks and picnics, and I absorbed the names of the flowers, birds and animals from my parents without really noticing. I joined the children’s group of a local nature conservation organisation and had more fun and learned a little bit more – again without really noticing.
My point is that the constant exposure to the natural world is honestly what led me to the work I now do in the conservation sector. Without it my life would have been poorer and I would not have been able to contribute to protecting wildlife in the modest way I have done – raising money to help others make a difference. I’m not a conservation expert by any means but I’ve found a way to use the skills I have in protecting what matters to me.
Letting children play in nature is not just good for them, it’s good for conservation too – as I’m fond of saying, with tongue firmly in cheek, “indoctrination works.”
So I’d like to thank The Grasslands Trust’s Martin Reeves and those like him who work so hard to get people involved in their local grasslands and other wild places. And thanks Mum and Dad for the “indoctrination” too!
Liz Proctor, Consultant Fundraiser