Saturday, Dec 13, 2008
British children are so out of touch with the natural world that they are no longer able to identify common species of plants and animals, according to a survey conducted by BBC Wildlife Magazine.
The results “reinforce the idea that many children don’t spend enough time playing in the green outdoors and enjoying wildlife – something older generations might have taken for granted,” said the magazine’s Fergus Collins.
Seven hundred children between the ages of 9 and 11 were asked to identify various plants and animals from pictures. Just over 50 percent were able to identify a bluebell, with many mistaking the plant for lavender. Only 54 percent were able to identify a blue tit, and only 45 percent knew what an oak tree was. Forty-two percent correctly identified a newt, with many mistaking it for a lizard, and just 12 percent could identify a primrose. Many children mistook a deer for an antelope.
(ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW)
The children performed slightly better at identifying frogs, with a 62 percent success rate, while 90 and 95 percent could identify badgers and robins, respectively.
The survey also found that playing in the countryside ranked dead last among children’s preferred ways of spending leisure time. Going for a walk or playing outside both ranked lower than playing on the computer or seeing friends.
Sir David Attenborough warned that the findings have dire implications for the future of the environment.
“The wild world is becoming so remote to children that they miss out,” he said, “and an interest in the natural world doesn’t grow as it should. Nobody is going protect the natural world unless they understand it.”
Experts said that overprotective parents are partially to blame for the results, but so are conservationists, who are often afraid that children will damage nature.
“Environmental sensitivities should not be prioritized over children,” said Martin Maudsley of the University of Gloucestershire. “Play is the primary mechanism through which children engage and connect with the world, and natural environments are particularly attractive, inspiring and satisfying for kids. Something magical occurs when children and wild spaces mix.”
This article was posted: Saturday, December 13, 2008 at 4:18 am