Wildlife in the Classroom
As CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Adviser at the Born Free Foundation, I am fortunate in being given the opportunity to present on my work campaigning to protect wildlife at home and abroad to schools and colleges across the country. Over the last 12 months, I have presented to hundreds of children and young adults from all ages and backgrounds, from inner city schools and colleges to elite public schools agriculture and veterinary colleges.
I spend much of my time engaging with politicians, policy makers, business leaders and the media to defend wildlife, which can often be a frustrating and complex process. However, I find engaging with children and young adults a far more rewarding experience. They are far more open minded and compassionate towards animals than many adults and surprisingly well informed about the many threats they face as a result of human activity in a rapidly changing world.
From the fate of the badger in the British countryside to the ivory and rhino horn trade and the capture and exploration of dolphins by the marine park businesses, some of my most interesting and stimulating conversations on my work as a wildlife campaigner, broadcaster and writer, have been with young audiences. However, wherever I go and engage with children and teachers, I get the same message back. We are not doing enough to educate and inform children of the many threats to the natural world and our precious wildlife.
This is why I fully support the campaign by the highly respected natural history producer and writer Mary Collwell, to put nature at the heart of our education system in the form of GCSE in Natural History. In the 46 years since I was born, Britain has become one of the most nature depleted countries in the world. More than one in ten of our native species are now threatened with extinction any many others have seen their populations plummet by two thirds since 1970.
Deforestation, industrial farming, building development and climate change are having a hugely destructive impact on wildlife habitats across the nation. On a global scale the situation is even worse with the 2010 Living Planet Index, indicating that the world has seen a 52% reduction in species numbers since 1970.
We need to urgently communicate this huge threat to our natural word to children and young adults. Ultimately they will be the decision makers of the future, who will have to address the monumental challenge of balancing human development with the need to protect what is left of the world's wildlife.
The Badger Trust is passionate about educating young minds. New initiatives will help bring badgers into more classrooms.
CEO, Badger Trust
07 July 2017