Nature needs campaigners, for kids’ sake

Even the trees are demonstrating a perfect balls up...

Lessons about the environment are as important as English and maths. Yes they are. At least that’s what Sir David Attenborough says in the weekend Guardian, here.  How sad Sir David must be to see the cuts the councils are apparently being forced to make. Where I live the nature conservation team is facing dismissal.  So is the team at the city farm. So are the lollypop ladies…

This post is by Nicola Baird, and a bit more miserable than most of the ideas in her book Homemade Kids: thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children.

Did you see that?
Considering my nearest local park is under the shadow of Arsenal’s Emirates stadium it is amazing that over the years my daughters and I have seen herons and kingfishers, newts and butterflies. There’s a live video link nesting box, a pond full of frogs and dragon flies and somewhere the slow worms breed.

My nine year old and I walk through the park regularly, today it was damp but a fox ran in front of us. “What will happen to all the animals when they close the Ecology Centre?” she asked, “will they die?” I explained that they probably won’t. But I couldn’t face telling her that closing this little pocket park cuts off our urban neighbourhood’s last link to nature. Without it we live on, impervious to seasons – the snowdrops will be up soon – or to the joy of contact with our wild world.

Where’s nature?
Real life isn’t seen from the window of a bus, 3rd floor flat or the TV. It’s experience that counts. Little children need to be able to splash in puddles, watch the swifts dive for their insect dinner and hunt for mini beasts. Few parents let them do that in busy urban streets, so what’s left but the park?

As I write this I can hear my neighours’ removal lorry pull away for their new life outside London. He lost his job, she can’t get the part time hours to help share brining up their two little children. Normally I wouldn’t be envious of anyone leaving London, but with the threat of our park going, I don’t feel the same today.

This time David Attenborough’s comment that “Bringing nature into [children’s lives] can kindle a fascination and passion for the diversity of life on earth and can motivate a sense of responsibility to safeguard it,” has become a dire warning, rather than the clarion cry he must have intended it to be when he spoke to the Association of Science Education conference’s delegates.

Anyone got any ideas how to cope with this Government’s asset stripping? Or what words I should use to explain it to my nine year old? Or, more critically, what I should do next?

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