A literature review by Dr Louise Chawla, Professor Emerita at the University of Colorado, finds that children are happier and more likely to protect the natural world when they have a greater connection to it, but this connection is complex and can also generate negative emotions linked to issues like climate change.
The review, published in the British Ecological Society Journal People and Nature, is the first to focus on nature connection in children and adolescents. In the article Dr Chawla comprehensively reviews the full scope of literature on the topic, covering peer-reviewed articles, books and studies by environmental organisations.
The review finds that connecting with nature supports multiple areas of young people’s wellbeing. “There is strong evidence that children are happier, healthier, function better, know more about the environment, and are more likely to take action to protect the natural world when they spend time in nature.” said Dr Chawla.
Several studies found that children’s connection with nature increased with time spent in natural environments. Time spent in this way was also a predictor for active care for nature in adulthood. These findings support strategies and policies that ensure that young people have access to wild areas, parks, gardens, green neighbourhoods, and naturalised grounds at schools.
Read the paper: Chawla, L. Childhood nature connection and constructive hope: A review of research on connecting with nature and coping with environmental loss. People Nat. 2020; 00: 1– 24. https://doi.org/10.1002/pan3.10128
Posted on: 06 August 2020