Children's engagement with woodland highest in South West - survey
Children from the South West's urban areas have the highest level of engagement with woodland in the country, according to a new national survey.
Countrywide, the survey suggested children from towns and cities are more in tune with nature than might have been thought with over 70 per cent having visited a wood or forest in the last year.
The survey, commissioned by The Crown Estate, found 84% of children living in urban areas in the South West have had the opportunity to explore England’s woodlands first-hand at least once in the last year. Statistics for the region exceeded the national average by 10% and mean that up to 42,000 children from the South West have visited woodlands in the last 12 months.
In addition, a total of 96 per cent of those surveyed have travelled outside their urban setting at some point in their lifetime to visit woodland.
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These extremely positive figures suggest that children’s waning connection with nature may not be as severe as perhaps feared and that there is an opportunity to build on the woodland experiences of children to help them develop a deeper understanding of key environmental and forestry issues. This sentiment was backed by parents in the South West, 92% of which said they wanted their children to have more interaction with forests and woodlands.
The survey is part of The Crown Estate’s Forests for the Future initiative which was launched today at the Dunster Estate in Minehead.
Forests for the Future is an educational resource, focused on helping primary teachers engage their students in issues like the importance of trees and forests and the role they play in tackling climate change.
As well as teaching children about these important issues, the initiative also encourages teachers to take learning out of the classroom to utilise local woodland and other green spaces to help their pupils engage with nature first hand.
Forestry Minister, David Heath MP, endorsed Forests for the Future and commented on the research stating: "Forests for the Future is a great initiative from The Crown Estate, aimed at inspiring outdoor learning for children and a real understanding of the contribution our forests make. What’s more, today’s research provides welcome evidence that children across the country are indeed passionate about their woodlands.”
The Crown Estate’s Chief Executive, Alison Nimmo said: "It is fantastic that children across the country are out in forests experiencing these national treasures first hand. We’re launching Forests for the Future to seize this momentum by converting everyday woodland trips into enjoyable learning opportunities that maintain their passion for the natural world."