The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of access to nature for our physical and mental wellbeing. We must protect and enhance the countryside so that this generation and future generations can connect with and explore nature and landscapes.
Every child should be guaranteed a ‘Night in Nature’ in a National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) as part of the national curriculum. Meaningful time in the countryside should be a universal right for every child, not a privilege. Many children, especially those in minority communities, face barriers to access to the countryside such as distance, lack of transport, and cost. A ‘Night in Nature’ would help to eliminate some of these barriers. Exploring the natural environment provides a chance to be active while learning about the importance of nature first-hand, outside of the classroom. Such an experience would help children develop a lifelong appreciation of the countryside.
Oxfordshire could become the first county with a Night in Nature programme. With three different AONBs (Cotswolds, Chilterns and NorthWessex Downs), together accounting for around 25% of the county’s land area, Oxfordshire is extraordinarily well-placed to put such a programme in place.
This response was submitted by the CPRE