Kate supports campaign to encourage children to become backyard nature guardians
By Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter
The Duchess of Cambridge is supporting a new campaign aimed at encouraging children to become the next generation of environmental guardians.
Backyard Nature is pledging to help youngsters across the UK spend a total of one million hours outside by inspiring them to protect the wildlife on their own doorstep.
Kate, who is known for promoting the benefits of the great outdoors on children's health, said: "Spending time in nature can play a pivotal role in helping children grow up to become happy, healthy adults.
"The great outdoors provides an open playground for children to have fun and learn life-long skills - from balance and coordination to empathy and creativity - with their friends, their parents, their carers, or their family members.
"I hope the Backyard Nature campaign inspires children, families and communities to get outside and engage with nature, wherever they live."
Young people, and their parents or carers, can sign-up online to become "Backyard Nature guardians" for their area through the website backyardnature.org
Once joined, users can find their local patch using a map highlighting green spaces, download DIY guides and also find conservation events happening nearby.
The campaign, funded by the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation, was inspired by the Eco Emeralds, a group of young environmentalists from All Saints Catholic Primary School in Anfield, Liverpool.
The youngsters aged seven to 11 contacted Iceland's managing director Richard Walker via Twitter and were invited to the supermarket firm's head office to present their ideas, leading to the development of the campaign.
Mr Walker said: "The nation is waking up to the immediate challenge facing us - far bigger than any of the other issues being discussed in the media at the moment, the environmental crisis has huge implications for us all.
"The Eco Emeralds share my belief that the next generation needs to connect with nature and become conservation activists, and their commitment to motivating and enabling others to do this is truly inspiring.
"I strongly believe that children need to know nature in order to want to protect it, and this campaign is about supporting them to do just that.
"By encouraging children to spend one million hours in their backyards, the campaign is committed to truly connecting the next generation with the planet we all need their help to save."
Research released to coincide with the launch found that 60% of children want to spend more time outside, but 62% currently spend less than five hours per week outdoors, not including travelling to school.
More than four fifths (82%) of UK parents are fearful about future environmental challenges facing the next generation, while 81% would like their children to spend more time outdoors but cite lack of time and money as a key barrier.
The campaign is funded by the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation and supported by The Wildlife Trusts, The National Trust, WWF, Clarion and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, as well as family activity app, Hoop.