Britain’s knowledge of nature is dwindling to worrying new levels with younger generations now less clued up than ever, according to a shocking new study.
Nearly double the number of parents aged over 51 (49 per cent) said nature was one of the most important things to teach children, compared to just one in three aged under 30.
And the staggering naivety of younger adults revealed just six in ten 25 to 30 year olds knew a vixen was a female fox – a fact nearly all parents over 51 (96 per cent) knew.
In fact, one in six (17 per cent) of the younger generation of parents believed female foxes were called ‘sows’ – the name for a female pig.
The research, commissioned by collectible toy brand Sylvanian Families, revealed some startling insights into the nation’s poor grasp of outdoor life.
Nine in ten over 51s (92 per cent) identified the fact male rabbits were called a ‘buck’, which just over half (53 per cent) of 25 to 30 year olds knew.
Meanwhile one in five (21 per cent) 25 to 30 year olds incorrectly believed male rabbits were called ‘jacks’.
Interestingly, identifying facts about nature gets better with age.
For instance, just a third of 25 to 30 year olds (35 per cent) knew foxes live in dens, compared to nearly half of 31 to 40 year olds, 61 per cent of 41 to 50 year olds and 65 per cent aged over 51.
And a staggering one in seven 25 to 30 year olds believed the best way to attract bees and butterflies to their garden was to put pictures of bees and butterflies around their garden.
In contrast, more than nine in ten over 51s knew you had to plant native flowers instead, the poll of 1,000 adult parents found.
The research also found younger parents appear largely clueless in identifying leaves and trees.
Two thirds of over 51s (65 per cent) could identify an oak leaf when shown one, compared to less than half (45 per cent) of 25-30 year olds.
One in ten 31-40 year olds got so confused over oak leafs they identified them as coming from fir trees.
The naivety even stretches to knowing where conkers come from, despite them being used previously for a traditional playground game at schools around the UK.
One in five (21 per cent) 25 to 30 year olds didn’t realise they fell from horse chestnut trees – instead believing they must fall from ‘conker’ trees.
Sally Carnall, marketing manager for Sylvanian Families, said:
“Sadly the decline in knowing about the world around us will dwindle if parents continue to allow their children to use technology more than playing outside.
“The results reveal a worrying trend and if we conducted similar research in a future generation’s time, we might expect the nation’s knowledge of nature to dwindle further.
“Clearly nature is something adults must know about and some of the ignorance displayed carrying out this research was staggering and worrying.
“Some of this confusion would be stamped out if people spent more time outside with their children teaching them about animals and plant life. Playing outside as a family also has emotional and social benefits, as well as encouraging curiosity about the world around us.”
Just over a third of children (38 per cent) said they go out to explore nature and wildlife on a weekly basis – something one in ten either never do or admit doing just once a year.
It means they too are struggling to identify certain facts about nature as 37 per cent of children could not give the name for a female fox and 43 per cent could not name a male rabbit.
One in five (21 per cent) of children also thought conkers fell from oak trees.
In order to get children outside with nature more, National Trust property Hatchlands Park in East Clandon, Surrey, is opening a new Sylvanian Families children’s nature trail.
Characters from Sylvanian Families will be used on the trail to educate children about different animals, ranging from rabbits to squirrels and hedgehogs.
It opens on Friday May 1 and children armed with activity sheets must complete facts about the nature they see on the trail.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with National Trust Hatchlands Park to open this new nature trail during our 30th anniversary year. We hope fans of Sylvanian Families will love spotting their favourite characters, but more importantly we hope the trail will inspire families to explore and discover nature”, Sally Carnall, Marketing Manager at EPOCH making toys
“Sylvanian Families is incredibly popular with children as well as adults, and its core values of nature and imaginative play fit with those of the National Trust. I am sure this is going to be a hugely successful attraction at Hatchlands Park.”, Mark Harvey, House Steward at National Trust Hatchlands Park