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Campaign to get children across the UK spending a million more hours in nature

Logo: Backyard Nature

Backyard Nature is giving children and young people the tools they need to enjoy and protect nature where they live. Launched in July, the campaign is a response to the UK’s growing nature crisis, with a massive 40% of the nation's species in steep decline.

Backyard Nature pledges to inspire one million hours in the outdoors  for children and encourages them to act as ‘nature guardians’  (Backyard Nature)
Backyard Nature pledges to inspire one million hours in the outdoors for children and encourages them to act as ‘nature guardians’ (Backyard Nature)

At the same time, children are spending less time enjoying nature. Research released by the campaign partners 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. Over four fifths (82%) of UK parents say that they are fearful about the future environmental challenges facing the next generation. Spending time in nature helps children get to know and love it, which is critical if they are to grow into the future guardians of the planet.

Young people and their grown-ups, can sign-up on the website to become a Backyard Nature Guardian. Once joined, they identify their patch, which could be a plant pot, an area of their garden or a local green space. They then use the free resources to help them protect their patch while also telling the world what they are doing to inspire others to get involved. Nearly 4,000 Backyard Nature Guardians have signed up so far! As well as doing their own thing to help nature thrive, they have helped to plant over 15 million wildflower seeds as part of the campaign’s Save the Bees mission!

The Backyard Nature website features resources and events to help  children learn about and protect nature (Backyard Nature)
The Backyard Nature website features resources and events to help children learn about and protect nature (Backyard Nature)

Backyard Nature was inspired by the Eco Emeralds, a group of young environmentalists from All Saints Catholic Primary School in Liverpool. They contacted Iceland's managing director Richard Walker via Twitter and were invited to the supermarket firm's head office to present their ideas, which led to the development of the campaign.

Richard 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. 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."

Backyard Nature is led by Semble, the UK’s leading organisation for grassroots community projects. It is funded by the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation and supported by a collective of charity partners, including the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Plantlife and The Wildlife Trusts.

Semble, previously known as Project Dirt, helps small and local community projects get the support they deserve. Semble runs a range of inspiring campaigns that support people and businesses to take local action in their communities. Community projects use the Semble.org platform to share their stories and find resources to grow their impact.

To find out more visit backyardnature.org or email backyardnature@semble.org

First published in CJS Focus on the Next Generation in association with Action for Conservation on 2 December 2019. Read the full issue here