Information about nature, its relationship to kids experience , cognitive development and environmental awareness

Nature and Environmental Awareness

According to the funding body Natural England learning about nature encourages enthusiasm about preserving the environment and the conservation of biodiversity. This in turn makes people more enthusiastic about behaving in a way that is sustainable.  The end result of actions.

Breakthroughs for the twenty-first Century: p12.Sustainable, D. C. (2009).  S. D. commission. London,

The first year of fieldwork for the Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE) survey took place between March 2009 and February 2010. This survey provides a comprehensive database.  It includes information on visits to the natural environment (including short, close to home visits) as well as other ways of using and enjoying the natural environment such as gardening, watching wildlife and volunteering in the natural environment. The survey is undertaken by TNS Research International on behalf of Natural England, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Forestry Commission.

Connection between sustainabile behacour and awareness of nature

Studies from the context of environmental education offer some insights into young people’s perceptions of the natural environment.

Community Heritage Initiative 2004 showed that interaction with wildlife was the main attraction of outdoor experiences, followed by visiting/learning about forests.  Significantly, 41% of students reported change in their environmental attitudes as a result of such visits.

The value of Nature to the economy

Report: Natural England: No charge?    Valuing the natural environment 2009

Natural England believes we need to focus on how to: re-connect people with nature and the ecosystem services that are provided by a healthy natural environment.  They consider that there should be real engagement between providers of services that depend on our environment and those that benefit from them. We should better align our economic activities with our ecological systems so that market forces can be harnessed to work with nature rather than against it

The benefits of outdoor play in terms of development, emotional cognitive development, free play,  Turnaround project 2007.

From summary for supervisors meeting 30 March:

Outdoor play has decined

Nevertheless, a recent phenomenon noted by childhood geographers and sociologists, such as Valentine and McKendrick (1997) and Karsten (2005), is that outdoor play has declined 2 and tends to be undertaken increasingly within the confines of the home or in close proximity, such as private gardens.

Those that visit when young do as adults

Age groups

Ballantyne and Parker (2002) investigated students’ expectations and experience of learning in natural settings. They found that most students were looking forward to their visits to natural settings; however primary school students were more enthusiastic than secondary school students.

Wals (1994) found that young adolescents (12-13 years old) from Detroit, USA perceive nature as “flowers, animals, trees […] alive; pure, peaceful, pristine, nonhuman made; freedom, solitude, self-supporting, wild and spontaneous”.

The links to Every Child Matters, through the principle that every child should have the opportunity to positively shape society, and their own future, are obvious

Responses to the consultation

(DfES, 2006b)  There were 870 responses – a figure considerably in excess of the norm for DfES consultations. 347 of these were from students, 160 of whom were under 11. The report on the consultation contains quotes from both adults and young people and summarises the latter’s views in this way:

frustration with the state of the environment in their communities, typically road danger, noise and pollution; vandalism, litter and graffiti; and destruction of nature for building/industry



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