Environmental Benefits

  • Various studies have shown that spending time outdoors, appreciating nature, before the age of 11 is a predictor of future positive environmental beliefs. A study by Bixler (2002) demonstrated that adolescents that had played in wilderness had more positive perceptions of natural environments, outdoor recreational activities and outdoor occupational environments.  A study of German adults by Ewert et al. (2005) showed that those that had had increased contact with nature as a child showed higher levels of ‘indignation at insufficient nature protection’. (1).
  • There is debate as to what factors are necessary to establish positive environmental attitudes. Some point to the importance of free-play. Others argue that environmental awareness/values are developed when ‘specific measures are taken within the outdoor learning experience to focus on such issues’ Dillon et al (2004). (2). In practice, if children have the opportunity to benefit from structured and unstructured sessions in natural settings, then positive outcomes are likely.
  • E.O Wilson proposed the biophilia hypothesis, that there is an instinctive and innate bond between humans and other lifeforms. In his memoirs he says ‘hands-on experience at a critical time, not systematic knowledge, is what counts in the making of a naturalist.’(3).
  • D Orr, and F Capra were the first to coin the term ‘eco-literacy’ in the 1990s. This refers to a ‘…understanding of the principles of organisation of ecological communities and using those principles for creating sustainable human communities…  A ecologically literate society would be a sustainable society which did not destroy the natural environment on which they depend.’ Through the study of natural systems a deeper understanding of the interdependence of living systems emerges. (4).


  1. See Louv, R 2005 ‘Last Child in the Woods. Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder’. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. pp 150.
  2. See Bird, W & RSPB (2007) ‘Natural Thinking: Investigating the Links between the Natural Environment, Biodiversity and Mental Health’. First Edition. pp 53.
  3. Dillon et al (2004) ‘A Review of Research on Outdoor Learning’. National Foundation of Educational Research and King’s College London. pp52.
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_literacy

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