Last modified: 04 September 2013
Image: The RSPB
Children and their parents across West Sussex are being urged by the RSPB to get outdoors this autumn and explore the season’s nature in their neighbourhood.
The conservation charity is encouraging families to take part in its ‘Changes through autumn’ Wildsquare survey. Families are asked to look for and record fungi, leaves that have changed colour and the wildlife that you might come across at this time of year.
The seasonal survey is one of several that the RSPB runs each year and can be done wherever there is nature - in a garden, park, woodland or playground, or even whilst out on a walk with the family.
Samantha Stokes, from RSPB South East, said: “Getting children inspired by nature at an early age is really important if we want them to care about the environment and conservation in the future.
“A Wildsquare survey is a great way for young people to get close to the nature around them, in their gardens, local park or nature reserve; and our town and city centres have a wealth of wildlife that might surprise people too.
“For this autumn-themed survey we want children to tell us things like what kind of fungi they can find and also what creatures they have found hiding underneath rocks, stones or logs.”
Taking part is simple. All parents need to do is register at rspb.org.uk/wildsquare and download the survey form. Once the children have done the survey, which takes between 30 minutes to an hour, their results can be entered through the website.
Miss Stokes added: “Without the opportunity and encouragement to get outdoors and connect with nature, children are missing out on so many benefits that previous generations have enjoyed, and it’s putting the future of our wildlife and natural environment at risk.”
Evidence shows that the proportion of children playing out in natural spaces has dropped by as much as 75 per cent over the last thirty to forty years. This is despite the proven positive effects that contact with the natural world has on children’s physical and mental health, personal and social development, and even academic achievements and life chances.
If the decline in connection continues the consequences for wildlife and people could be catastrophic, as children who don’t value and respect nature when they’re young are less likely to see the importance of protecting the natural environment when they are older.
The Changes through autumn Wildsquare survey runs until 31 October 2013.