More than one in nine children in England have not set foot in a park, forest, beach or any other natural environment for at least 12 months, according to a two-year study funded by the government.So..?
Children from low-income families and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) households are markedly less likely than white children and those from higher income households to frequently visit urban or rural wild places, according to the survey conducted by Natural England.Oh. I guess I know where this is going.
“There’s a lack of role models,” said broadcaster and ‘urban birder’ David Lindo. “In the last 10 years I’ve seen a slight increase in black birdwatchers but still nowhere near as much as there should be. “I didn’t even realise there was an optimum number, much less that society should be striving for it. Is there one for every other hobby and pastime..?
I mean, can I expect to see demands for more ethnic minority trainspotters and windsurfers soon?
Natalie Johnson of the Wild Network, a non-for-profit organisation, said: “The problems are fear, space, tech and time, and they vary massively across the country. In the countryside, the biggest barrier is busy country roads. Inner city kids have genuine gang problems. “In middle class suburbia, it’s the parents – how do you tell parents that the time children play freely outside is as important as their French lesson, their ballet lesson and their Mandarin lesson?”Well, maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t. Maybe those other things are actually important to their future life in a way that’s not true of walking around a country park.
I’m sure if there was a government-sponsored not-for-profit organisation promoting Camembert appreciation, tutu-wearing or noodles, they’d be demanding that these classes were a lot more important…
Findlay Wilde, a 13-year-old wildlife blogger, said too many parents stopped taking children into the natural world when they entered secondary school, which also failed to make the environment a core subject. “Once children hit high school they become more independent and might think being interested in the natural world is uncool,” he said. “If they can, parents need to keep their connection with their children and continue to take them outdoors.” Wilde also called for conservation groups to combine with secondary schools and send thousands of volunteers into the schools to help support teachers and pupils in exploring and enjoying natural environments.He’s 13 years old, and we should listen to him because..?
A US study last year revealed that environmental groups do a worse job than business and sports in promoting minorities and women. British conservationists said they were acutely aware of the lack of non-white people among their organisations and members. “It’s recognised, it’s not hidden under the carpet anymore,” said Welch. Lindo said he did not blame conservation charities for the lack of black and ethnic minority visits to natural environments but said there was a need for more minority role models on wildlife TV. When he led school trips, Lindo said he saw black and ethnic minority children suddenly respond to wildlife: “Once they see someone else of their ethnicity they think, ‘oh, it’s okay now’” .I would venture to suggest that if you have a ‘community’ that won’t attempt something until they’ve seen others like them doing it, you have a much, much bigger problem than whether they occasionally tiptoe through the tulips or gambol in the meadows….