A new study has shown for the first time that children’s connection to nature is directly related to their health and wellbeing.

The research undertaken by Queen’s University Belfast for the RSPB involved 2,400 children aged eight to 12 years, as part of the annual Kids’ Life and Times questionnaire.

It builds on our 2013 report which established national baselines for UK children’s connection to nature – in other words, their deeply-held feelings about nature.

Now, the work in Northern Ireland has gone one step further, by also asking children about their health and quality of life. It has found that (see page 14):

 “connection to nature and children’s rating of their health and well-being are correlated – children who are more connected to nature rate their health and well-being as significantly higher.”

This is clearly great news for children; as well as for all those making the case for connecting them with nature!

However, the analysis by Queen’s University Belfast has also reinforced our 2013 finding that only one-quarter of children in Northern Ireland has a level of connection to nature that the RSPB  considers ‘realistic and achievable’ for every child.

We believe that we all – charities, governments, schools, youth groups, families and individuals – have a role to play in connecting all children to nature; and inspiring and enabling them to help save it.

Do you want to give children an opportunity to connect with nature? If you’re a teacher (of have the opportunity to influence a teacher) consider taking part in our Big Schools’ Birdwatch! This simple survey for schools takes place after Christmas, from the 4th January to the 12th February, and involves classes spending one lesson (or lunchtime) counting the birds that visit their school grounds. Register at rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch for a free bird poster.

Help us engage young people with nature!