Children's opinions about the loss of nature

A.A. Mabelis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Nowadays many teenagers are brought to school by car and spend a great deal of their free time watching TV and playing computer games. Lack of opportunities to experience nature may influence their perception of nature. Do they miss the flower-rich grasslands and the meadow birds of the past? Do they miss the variety of plants and water animals in the ditches? If we want to convince young people that it is important to conserve biodiversity we have to find out what kinds of preconceptions, ideas and beliefs they have about environmental issues. Are they worried about deterioration of the environment and loss of nature? A survey was conducted among approximately 400 Dutch schoolchildren (age: 8–16 years) in order to test their feelings about deterioration of the environment and the extinction of species. The majority of pupils answered that they regret the extinction of species more or less, especially popular ones. For a minority it does not matter at all. The proportion of pupils who expressed indifference to the pollution of air, water and soil was 7%, 10% and 13%, respectively. Dying of the forest was taken very seriously by approximately 60% of the pupils; this percentage increased after a slide of a dead forest was shown. A similar result was obtained in respect to the assumed extinction of a common plant species: it was taken more seriously after some information was given. More than half of the pupils predicted a bad future for the Netherlands. However, this pessimistic view can be changed into a more optimistic one by stimulating activities to improve the environment. The fact that most pupils judged their own future positive may indicate that they feel to have some control on the quality of their own life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-136
JournalSouthern African Journal of Environmental Education
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • youth
  • children
  • research
  • nature
  • landscape experience
  • nature and environmental education

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