Woodlands, countryside and parks have become out of bounds to a generation of ‘cotton wool kids’ with fewer than ten percent playing in such places, according to new research results revealed by Natural England.
In addition, less than a quarter of children said they visit a patch of nature near their home on a weekly basis, compared with over half of adults who visited a local nature patch weekly when they were young.
The survey was produced to mark the launch of Natural England’s ‘One Million Children Outdoors’ programme, which aims to encourage more children to visit places such as nature reserves and environmentally friendly farms.
The survey also revealed that nature-based activities, such as pond dipping, climbing trees and playing conkers are enjoyed by children when they are allowed to take part and that over 80 percent of them wanted more freedom to play outdoors.
Most adults agreed that they would like children to play outdoors more often, but cited road safety and concern about strangers as reasons for not giving them more freedom.
Poul Christensen, acting Chair for Natural England said: “Children are being denied the fundamental sense of independence and freedom in nature that their parents enjoyed. Our research shows that contact with nature has halved in a generation and that the overwhelming majority of children now want more opportunities to play outdoors.
“Whether through pond dipping or tree climbing, nature-based activities can play an important role in the educational and social development of children. Society must question its priorities in providing safe open spaces for play – the money spent on parks and trees in this country is a fraction of that spent on the roads that cause parents safety concerns.”
Source: Natural England