A new study has shown that children are less exposed to the nature on their doorstep, leaving them unenthusiastic about wanting to save it for posterity.
Wild flower, plant and fungi campaigner PlantLife spotted that the Oxford Junior Dictionary left out 20 names of common wild flowers and plants in its latest edition. Words such as ‘broadband’ and ‘cut and paste’ replaced ‘conker’ and ‘catkin’, suggesting technology has overtaken interest in nature with many children.
It's worrying considering the UK is losing one native species a year, per county, in a trend that’s only likely to speed up in coming years.
Even in the time the Queen has been on the throne, ten species have been lost with many more on the severely endangered list.
So what can we do to help? Katie Cameron from PlantLife has some ideas...
Share your love for nature
It’s about feeling proud of our local area and looking after it,” says Katie. “As technology grows and our access to the countryside diminishes, largely thanks to changes in landscape use, it’s getting harder for younger generations to get outside and interact with nature in the way we did.
“That’s why PlantLife is calling on grandparents to pass on their stories and memories of playing outdoors and getting close to nature, to encourage youngsters to get excited about what’s outside. It’s about appealing to the next generation and getting that love affair with nature started earlier.”
PlantLife is also asking families to join its Bee Scene survey and hunt for 15 common wild flowers, recording the findings on an interactive map. The more diverse species you find, the healthier your area is, and the better it will be for wildlife.
Campaign to save meadows
In the last 75 years we’ve lost a staggering 97 per cent of meadows in the UK, largely due to changes in use of farming land and housing developments. Vital for wild flowers, wildlife also relies on them.
If a meadow near you is being targeted for development, you can write a letter of objection to the named Case Officer at the relevant Local Planning Authority, explaining how wildlife will be affected by the development (the local records centre, or The Wildlife Trust can advise you) along with suggested alterations to the planning applications that would reduce the impact.
You could also consider forming a group to oppose the plan, joining an existing group, or contacting your local press.
Create your own meadow
- Remove grass, weeds and the top layer of soil from a patch of the garden that hasn’t had fertiliser or compost added.
- Mix together one part wildflower seed with four parts grass seed (don’t take seeds from the wild – always buy specially-grown seeds).
- Sprinkle a handful of your seed mix per 3ft square of soil in spring or autumn.
- Walk over the soil to press it down and water lightly.
- Arrange branches over your seeds to keep animals out.
- Cut in summer to 4-8in (5-10cm) high and compost the cuttings.
Sign up to help road verges
Rural road verges are a vital refuge for wild flowers driven out of farmland and meadows. In fact, many species depend upon them for their existence.
But cuts to funding means they are often neglected.
The PlantLife Road Verges campaign wants to change this by encouraging councils to look after roadsides by cutting the verge once or twice a year, taking care that brambles and litter don’t take over. “If a verge looks lovely, people are much more inclined to care about it,” says Katie.