This is a round up from Natural England of recent and relevant evidence and reports, policy agenda developments, large scale delivery sector initiatives, resources and news items. This supports the Strategic Research Groups for Learning in Natural Environments and Outdoors for All in order to develop better coherence and collaboration in research and to improve links between research, policy and practice in these areas.

The following caught our eye:

Children’s understanding of animal, plant, and artifact properties between 3 and 6 years
Fouquet, Megalakaki & Labrell – Infant and Child Development
An assessment of young children’s conceptual development for animal, plant, and artifact categories indicate that they attributed biological properties (such as movement, growth, and nutrition) to animals more often than to plants or artifacts. Engaging children in gardening activities may help them gain a deeper understanding of plants as living organisms.

Learned helplessness moderates the relationship between environmental concern and behavior
Nicholas Landry et al – Journal of Environmental Psychology
This study examined whether self-reported levels of trait learned helplessness moderates a concern–behavior relation. Results confirmed that learned helplessness moderated links between environmental concern and both self-reported and in-vivo measures of pro-environmental behavior, such that concern most strongly predicted behavior when learned helplessness scores were low. Results are reliable after controlling for gender as well as depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms. These findings suggest that learned helplessness acts as a barrier to pro-environmental behavior in the face of environmental concern

Getting Active Outdoors: A study of Demography, Motivation, Participation and Provision in Outdoor Sport and Recreation in England
Sport England
A report commissioned by Sport England and produced in partnership with the Outdoor Industries Association

Network Nature: The Place of Nature in the Digital Age
R Coyne – Book
In Network Nature, Richard Coyne challenges the definitions of both the natural and the artificial that support this time-worn narrative of nature’s benefits. In the process, he attacks the counter-claim that nature must succumb to the sovereignty of digital data. Covering a spectrum of issues and concepts, from big data and biohacking to animality, numinous spaces and the post-digital, he draws on the rich field of semiotics as applied to natural systems and human communication, to enhance our understanding of place, landscape and architecture in a digital world.

Children’s engagement with the outdoors and sports activities, UK: 2014 to 2015: Analysis of the UK Time Use Survey to provide insight into the amount of time children spend engaging with the outdoors and sports activities.
Office of National Statistics report.

Key points include:

  • Children aged 8 to 15 years in the UK spent just over an hour (68 minutes) of their leisure time on average per day taking part in an outdoor activity, sports-related activity or travelling on foot or by bicycle.
  • Children spent three times longer on sports and exercise activities (33 minutes) than entertainment and culture activities (11 minutes).
  • Boys spent on average 40 minutes per day on sports activities. Girls, 25 minutes.
  • The average amount of leisure time children spent in parks, countryside, seaside, beach or coastal locations was 16 minutes per day.
  • Children reported greater enjoyment ratings when taking part in entertainment and culture (6.4 out of 7) and sports and exercise (6.3) than for other outdoor activities.

A school excursion to a museum can promote physical activity in children by integrating movement into curricular activities
Mygind, Kryger, Sidenius, Schipperijn, Bentsen, – European Physical Education Review
The aim of this study was to examine whether a school excursion to a museum can increase primary school students’ Physical Activity  and reduce sedentary time. While an increase in light physical activity and reduction in the amount of sedentary time was observed, students did not spend more time in moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) during the visit to the museum than on a regular school day. However, over the full excursion day, the students accumulated more MVPA. An excursion to a museum significantly reduced sedentary time, but was in itself not sufficient to increase MVPA.

Contact with urban forests greatly enhances children’s knowledge of faunal diversity
Sampaio et al – Urban Forestry and Urban Greening

Key points include:

  • Proximity to a natural area, even in an urban environment establishes a basis for developing knowledge about biodiversity.
  • Contact with a forest strongly influenced the knowledge of native animals in urban children.
  • Children without contact with a forest presented more human objects as part of this