Millie Pringle is a student at Wallington High School for Girls, and recently spent a week’s internship with SNH and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Here she shares some thoughts on how we could involve more people in spreading the benefits of nature.
Scotland hosts around 85,000 species – but probably hundreds more as many have yet to be discovered. Each animal, plant and microbe contributes to our distinctively special environment. What we enjoy around us, and eat, drink, touch and smell comes from nature. Our moods, conversations and health all benefit from the sights and sounds around us.
Too often we take nature for granted, and yet it does so much for us. Nature provides our clean water, and helps in more subtle ways through reducing flood risks and carbon emissions.
So how do we excite and involve people, especially youngsters, to care for this wonderful asset? That’s what I’ve been thinking about, and trying to come up with some ideas that merit further work.
Research work in this area is fascinating. It shows, for example, medical patients with access to green space recover more quickly, and people taking part in gardening improve their health, well-being and life opportunities. These simple findings come from 121 projects currently running in schools, hospitals and prisons (2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity Strategy).
Can we involve more people in such projects? One idea I came up with is to get more schools and communities involved with the campaign Championing a Species. This would target the age range of 12-17 year olds who have a far greater interest in the environment than many of us realise. A lot of us read whilst travelling. Could we make greater use of posters and social media on public transport to give more information on our local neighbourhoods? Could we provide details on joining events or volunteering opportunities? We could run ‘live’ stories on these, encouraging more people to get involved and care for our local areas. Bus and train companies could make a real difference here!
By engaging with more of my age group we will should be able to tap into the wider network of families and friends – hopefully having a catalytic effect.
Shortly after Millie’s visit to SNH, the UK’s youth nature network published its Vision for Nature report. This sets out the hopes and aspirations for the kind of future young people want to inherit. An inspiring document, it makes several key recommendations for action.