Responsibility for nature starts from childhood experiences in nature areas

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


One of the Sustainable Development Goals is aimed at making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. This includes environmental sustainability. Urbanization, however, is an ongoing force separating humans from the natural environment. This limited access to nature results in less direct contact with nature. Some researchers even warn for the “extinction of experience”, arguing that due to the loss of interaction with nature, interpreted as outdoor activities in nature, positive attitudes towards nature protection, emotions and pro-environmental behaviour will decline. As environmentalism is often traced back to memorable childhood experiences in nature, one may wonder what would happen if children would not have those experiences anymore. The disconnection between children and the natural world has left author Richard Louv, and many more with him, to wonder where the future stewards of this earth will come from. Recently, several interventions aimed at reconnecting children with nature, through real life nature experiences, have been initiated. Examples of these interventions are: the greening of children’s playing environment at nurseries, school and during leisure time and the introduction of nature experience programess for primary school children. In this presentation, we will present results from studies in the Netherlands that have investigated the impact of different types of interventions on children’s nature connectedness and responsibility towards nature. All children experience a green playing and learning environment positive. The results indicate that activities outside school are more influential than nature lessons in the classroom and that more natural environments stimulate nature connectedness stronger than park-like environments. Influential adults, such as parents, teachers and supervisors, play a crucial role in especially children’s responsibility towards nature. Our research seems to indicate that sustainability can only be achieved through the creation of future stewards. Therefore, both nature policies and educational policies should be “nature experience” inclusive
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventSecond International Forest Policy Meeting (2IFPM) - Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands
Duration: 11 Apr 201813 Apr 2018


ConferenceSecond International Forest Policy Meeting (2IFPM)


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