My new report Sowing the Seeds: Reconnecting children with nature was launched at City Hall yesterday morning. The report, written for the London Sustainable Development Commission (the body that advises the Mayor of London on sustainability) sets out a new vision for children’s relationship with nature, and maps out an action plan to reintroduce nature into their lives.
Sowing the Seeds argues that, just as with salmon or house sparrows, the presence of children out of doors should be seen as a measure of the quality of their ‘habitats’. A central message is that children’s engagement with nature has to become more hands-on, more playful and a more everyday part of their lives.
The event was described by Alison Barnes, LSDC Commissioner and Chief Executive of the New Forest National Park, as a “watershed moment”. Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London’s Director of Environment and Digital London, welcomed the report. He also undertook to ensure that the GLA was represented on the interim steering group that is being set up by the LSDC to take the work forward.
In parallel with the project, it emerged that London’s leading nature conservation agencies are preparing a manifesto for London with the forthcoming mayoral elections in mind, and that reconnecting children and young people with nature will be a central theme.
The 130 or so delegates also got a taste of a major documentary film that will be made by award-winning production company Green Lions. The programme has already secured a promised broadcast slot with Channel 4, and is being made with financial support from the National Trust, multinational food cooperative Arla and the NHS.
Closing the meeting Paul de Zylva, Director, Friends of the Earth England and another LSDC Commissioner, urged people with an interest to support the initiative and contact the LSDC with their views and ideas. Alongside the full report, LSDC has also published an executive summary. My literature review has also been produced as a separate stand-alone paper, so it can be shared and referenced to help make the case for action nationally and internationally.
Speaking personally, I am particularly excited about the potential for this project to take roots and grow, following on from its ‘soft launch’ in July. Alongside the steering group, the LSDC has already secured the support of a dozen or so organisations, whose logos are on the report’s back cover. Even though these are challenging times for taking forward new initiatives, the signs are that a powerful coalition is taking shape: one that could realise a compelling vision of a good childhood for the capital’s children.