Get back to nature before it's too late

BECOMING more immersed in cyberspace means that young people these days are losing touch with the real world. The evidence for this comes in the results of a new study. The fashionable buzz words are climate change and saving the planet by going green but

BECOMING more immersed in cyberspace means that young people these days are losing touch with the real world.

The evidence for this comes in the results of a new study. The fashionable buzz words are climate change and saving the planet by going green but it seems that children even have difficulty in telling what causes a buzz.

Biodiversity is crucial to safeguard life on Earth, but British youngsters are becoming increasingly disengaged from nature.

They lack even the basic knowledge needed to identify everyday animals, insects and plants, according to a survey of five to 10-year-olds.


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This showed that 37 per cent did not know what a bee looked like, with more than a third mistaking it for a wasp. Three per cent even got it mixed up with a fly.

For those of us older ones who were brought up on nature walks, the statistics continue to horrify.

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Almost a third of kids now have no idea what a mouse looks like, with six per cent confusing it with a gerbil. Nearly two-thirds struggle to tell a toad and a frog apart.

When it came to larger animals, one in 20 children did not know that a polar bear lives in a snowy landscape.

On to plants, and boys fared badly compared to girls. They were six times more likely to mistake a tulip for a daisy and twice as likely to confuse a dandelion with a sunflower.

The executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity says: "The survey results show that children's knowledge of biodiversity is in decline at a time when we need future generations to be more engaged and aware in order to halt its loss.

"This highlights a very real need to educate our children as the future guardians of our planet, to provide them with the knowledge they need today to preserve the natural world for tomorrow."

But things do not look good on that front. Half the children surveyed said they do not learn enough about the environment at school and that's despite one in eight wanting to know more about the natural world around them.

Another piece of research found that primary school children muddle up goats and sheep and many don't know that bread and milk come from wheat and cows rather than packets and bottles.

Seven out of 10 parents say they are concerned that their children do not know enough about the natural world.

Perhaps its time to turn off the computer games, take out the illustrated encyclopaedias from bookshelves and get the kids outdoors on nature rambles. The effort might be worth it if it means safeguarding the world.

On a different track, I read this week that muddled drivers admit to driving thousands of miles out of their way by mistake.

Eight in 10 own up to getting lost regularly, with drivers travelling an average of 30 miles in completely the wrong direction when lost.

The only thing I will say is, it all depends on who is doing the navigating.

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