Children need nature and nature needs children!

July 12, 2019 12:46 pm

Conservationists across the globe dedicate their lives to protecting the biodiversity of this planet. Environmentally-aware children, young people and adults protest against habitat destruction and actions leading to climate change, doing their best to minimise damage to the natural world in their daily lives.  But have you ever wondered what inspires these communities and individuals to take up action for our planet?  

Most likely when they were young children, probably below the age of five years old, they experienced a nature connection. This magical moment could have been watching spectacular wildlife behaviour all the way to being fascinated at a trail of ants. It is an individual experience that produced the same feeling of wonder, that the world is a bigger place than you and a deep appreciation for nature. If repeated often enough, a nature connection has the power to inspire a lifetime dedicated to protecting our environment.  

However, we have a problem. Children are spending less and less time in nature. This means we could miss a whole generation of conservationists and environmentally minded individuals. Without this generation, our planet hangs in the balance and our decisions stand to lose fragile ecosystems and species which cannot cope with the overwhelming human pressure.  

Nature education aims to provide nature connection experiences for children, young people and adults and inspire environmentally minded individuals and communities. Without education, conservation is a short-term solution. However, environmental issues cannot be contained within borders, therefore we must collaborate together to create effective conservation solutions.  

From Portugal to Brussels, to Leicester to Malta, we have been spreading the word about One World Learning, an international environmental education network aiming to inspire, empower and equip individuals and communities to live sustainably. We advocate the importance of learning through nature and support the development of high-quality learning through nature programmes.  

We have been reaching out to teachers, environmental organisations and environmental education professionals to join our free network and collaborate to share educational resources and experiences, and overcome challenges together.  

In May we brought together 40 educators from 22 countries in Brussels for the first time in the BirdLife International partnership. In June, 20 educators came together in Portugal to a local nature reserve to discuss educational theories and share ideas. There was a conference in Leicester in which 90 educators came together to learn from each other. And in Malta 25 educators joined to discuss the benefits of nature to society. In the next few months we will be spreading the word in London and Morocco.  

We have 11 organisations across Europe who have joined our network because they believe that by working together we can be more effective. We are inviting you to join us and become a part of a global movement to work together and provide the best possible nature connection experiences for children, young people and adults. We have resources to give you ideas and new methodologies for nature education, opportunities to ask experts your questions and join in discussions online on topical subjects.  

All you have to do is follow these three simple steps:  

  1. Fill in the form.
  2. Receive a confirmation email.
  3. Reply with your logo/photos for your partner profile, and signed agreement for joining the network.

We need to work together to solve a global biodiversity crisis. Children need nature and nature needs children! 

By Sarah Brady, BirdLife Malta Education Manager