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Children ‘not connected’ to nature, study finds: our tips

October 16, 2013
by Laura Canning | guides | news

Nature spotting in style Not that we’re normally ‘Won’t someone think of the children!’ hand-wringers at, but we were shocked (shocked!) at today’s findings from the RSPB that only one in five 8 – 12 year olds in the UK feel ‘connected to nature’ .

The report, part of a three-year research project, asked 1200 children 16 questions about their experience of and relationship with nature. Only 21 per cent of the 8 – 12 year olds surveyed felt a link with the natural world, which has made learned folk concerned about the impact on the environment in future years, and the impact on children’s health now ( a report last year by the National Trust called this ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ and said it could lead to physical and mental health problems). The RSPB has now teamed up with The Wild Network's Project Wild Thing , a film due out on 25 October about children's declining relationship with nature.

Also part of the same three-year research project was States of Nature, from the RSPB and over twenty other wildlife organisations including Kew Gardens and the Marine Conservation Society. Its report, published in May, found that 60 per cent of British wildlife species are declining, and that one in three species have halved in number over the past fifty years. OK, we’re hand-wringing a bit now.

If you too are hand-wringing, possibly questioning whether anyone will think of the children, and determined after the RSPB findings to take the sprogs nature-spotting forthwith, we bring you the happy news that you can do this on the relative cheap and combine it with a holiday (in the meantime, encourage your small people to chase moths and fascinatedly turn over stones to discover what bugs lie beneath).

Here’s how to find the best of the wild on – and as it’s autumn, we’ve included warmth-filled options for nature spotting at any time of year:

  • The David Bellamy Conservation Awards are given to campsites and holiday parks with a strong emphasis on sustainable conservation and encouraging wildlife, from planting organic gardens to building bird hides (we have the man himself explaining the criteria here ).

On you can search for sites with a gold , silver or bronze award with over a hundred so far bookable direct from their listing. And, so no brass monkeys are frozen, combine these with toasty accommodation in lodges, log cabins, pods and caravans for hire.

David Bellamy Gold Conservation Award sites – lodges for hire

David Bellamy Gold Conservation Award sites – caravans for hire

Wildlife haven sites with caravans for hire

Wildlife haven sites with lodges for hire

  • Have a look at our other filters where wildlife spotting is likely:

Campsites within 15 miles of an RSPB reserve

Sites in a remote location

Forest campsites

Sites near a lake and/or mountain

Sites in a walkers’ paradise

Sites with spectacular scenery

Wild camping – and in style with lodges or caravans for hire

  • And some we prepared earlier – wildlife sites available this autumn, winter and into 2014:

Braidhaugh Holiday Park , Perthshire

A David Bellamy Gold winner on the banks of the River Earn with mountain views and with family-friendly MacRosty Park ten minutes’ walk away on the west of the town of Crieff. From here set along the river on Lady Mary’s Walk, or take a trip to the Auchingarrich Wildlife Park at nearby Comrie, which has covered walkways for wildlife watching in wet weather. Braidhaugh has a camping pod, ensuite pod and luxury two-bedroom lodge, and is open all year round.

Forest walks at Forest Glade Forest Glade Holiday Park , Devon

Another Gold winner in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this time among the Blackdown Hills and on a four-star site with heated indoor pool and sauna. Naturewise, Forest Glade has a wildlife information room and forest walks around the park; there’s plenty of twitching afoot at the birdwatching haven Aylesbeare Common within eleven miles, and you won’t have to drive impatient youngsters too far to reach Exmoor, Dartmoor or the Jurassic Coast. A holiday caravan sleeping up to six starts from less than £20 a night.

St Tinney Farm , Cornwall

Winner of the David Bellamy Gold Award for eleven years straight, St Tinney’s is a working dairy farm in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has heaps of wildlife in and around it to pique interest: there are five fishing lakes on site and it has easy access to Bodmin Moor and Dartmoor. There’s a choice of accommodation for all year round, including holiday homes and lodges.

More info from our beastly blogs

Seeing red? Where to find red squirrels in Britain

Coastal critters – where to sea marine mammals in the UK

The big cats are out there – a guide to British beasts

Call of the wild – top ten foraging foods

Best budget days out – readers’ choice : tips on crabbing and budget wildlife days