zFiller Environment

Get out and about in nature

All Areas > Environment > Save the Planet

Author: Mark Stead, Posted: Friday, 24th April 2015, 08:00

Think back to your childhood. If you’re anything like me you’ll picture yourself climbing trees, building dens, paddling in streams, catching slow worms and coming back home covered in mud with a big smile on your face, eager to tell your parents all about your adventures (well, some of them!)

Now picture your children, your grandchildren or indeed any children you know doing the same in 30 years’ time. Will they have the same memories or will they picture themselves in front of the TV, on their mobile phone or playing on their Playstation?

With more people living in towns and cities, parents’ (understandable) fears of allowing their children to play outdoors and the lure of the digital screen, children are spending less time than ever outdoors.

I think this is a real shame – but why does it matter? Well, there’s a growing body of evidence that today’s children are suffering from what Richard Louv has termed ‘nature deficit disorder’ in his excellent book, ‘Last child in the woods’. This is affecting their behaviour and both their physical and mental wellbeing. We also need people to care about nature more than ever. People won’t protect nature if they don’t care for it, and they won’t care for it if they don’t experience it.

So, if you have children or grandchildren get them outdoors! Don’t know where to go? How about the local park or even your own garden? If you want to go further afield, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust reserves are a great place to start. They have over 60 reserves dotted all across the county so there’s bound to be one near you (see www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk/wildlife/reserves for a full list and map).

Stuck for what to do? You’re spoiled for choice. It could be as simple as going for a walk or splashing in the puddles – it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. How about building a den or looking for mini-beasts? Or use your imagination – try building your own wood elf village or even a bird’s nest!

Alternatively, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, the Nature Detectives website (naturedetectives.org.uk) is full of great ideas for every season, or take a look at Project Wildthing (projectwildthing.com). Here you can share your ideas and even print off a voucher for your children or grandchildren promising them some ‘Wild Time’. If you don’t have a computer, your local library will have lots of books full of fun activities – I recommend ‘Sharing Nature with Children’ by Joseph Cornel.

So, what will your children be doing this weekend? Sat in front of the TV or getting out and about, exploring their local area? I know which one I’d rather be doing!

To find out more about the work of GEEP visit www.geep.org.uk.

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