Young Naturalists on Conservation - World Wildlife Day 2017

In 2013, the United Nations declared the 3rd of March World Wildlife Day, commemorating the date CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) was signed. Every year, millions of people across the planet celebrate Earth's flora and fauna, and help raise awareness of the natural world.

This year, the theme is 'Listen to the young voices'. The UN say that "vigorous efforts need to be made to encourage young people, as the future leaders and decision makers of the world, to act at both local and global levels to protect endangered wildlife", and this is the purpose of World Wildlife Day - to engage with young people, and to show the impact young people can have on decision-making regarding the natural world.


So, for World Wildlife Day 2017, 
I've decided to consult the inspiring and active community of young naturalists here in the UK for their views, and share them here in this post, to show how forward thinking young people can be when it comes to the future of the natural world.

I asked the following question: What would you like to see change concerning conservation and the natural world?

Here are a few responses:

"The main change I would like to see involving the natural world is a change in attitude. I would like people to care less about making money and more about helping wildlife. Instead of thinking 'what is the cheapest way to do this?', people should think 'what is the most eco-friendly way to do this?'. However, with all the current political goings-on, especially in America, I believe that, unfortunately, humans are very unlikely to take up that way of thinking."
Louis, age 13 - @birderlouis
You can read his blog at: https://louiswildnorthumberland.blogspot.co.uk

"In my opinion I would like to see attitudes change towards young people with an interest in wildlife. For example, many young naturalists are bullied or teased because of their hobby and because of this I think they need to be made aware that there are other young birders, naturalists and wildlife photographers out there. Also I think we need to introduce a natural history GCSE in secondary schools and make education about nature compulsory in primary schools. This will have a positive effect on our planet because it will teach the next generation that wildlife is extremely important and it is our responsibility to conserve the amazing wildlife we have."
Mya, age 14 - @MyaBambrick1
You can read her blog at: http://myathebirder.blogspot.co.uk


"Looking to the future on World Wildlife Day, what would I like to see? 
  Well like it or not the UK will be exiting the EU. Is that a good or a bad thing? Overall I’m not sure, only time will tell. I’d think though we are better off as part of a bigger team than going it alone but let’s see. I hope we can make things work well for us.
  One thing I did worry about though, before the referendum and after it, is how little focus nature has got in the discussions. Most of the talk seems to be about the economy and immigration. I was so concerned I started a petition to try and keep EU nature laws.
  Why? Well, The State of Nature report told us that a lot (56%) of species in the UK are in decline. Europe has developed a lot of strong laws around nature, such as the EU Birds and Habitats Directive. We have a choice now when we exit of what to do about our laws. The plan is initially to adopt all EU regulations and then decide which we need and which we don’t. Is that good? Well reading about this I’m not sure. Farmers want the Government to look after them, and that could be a good thing, as they produce a lot of our food. But some of the current practices are not good for wildlife. Pesticides and Bees is one example. There is evidence though you can farm and improve things for nature without farmers suffering.
  Are the current laws strong enough? Well they are good but at the moment there is a debate about hedge cutting. Birds are protected by only allowing hedge cutting outside of the nesting season but some farmers want to cut earlier which might put some struggling species under more pressure like Yellow Hammers and Turtledoves. And, dare I mention it, there are the issues of Grouse Shooting and raptor persecution, badger culling and the potential of a vote on Fox Hunting all of which I feel very strongly about! So, I’d say we definitely don’t need these laws to be weakened.
  The Environmental Audit Committee considered all these issues and made a great set of recommendations. I’d like the Government to act on this and keep to one of its pledges nicely summed up in the first recommendation: In order to meet its manifesto commitment to “be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than it found it”, the Government must, before triggering Article 50, commit to legislating for a new Environmental Protection Act, ensuring that the UK has an equivalent or better level of environmental protection as in the EU." 
  On World Wildlife Day I’d like to see Government deliver this recommendation and make sure it is enforced!"
Zach, age 13 - @nerdboy386
You can read his blog at: https://yearofnature.blogspot.co.uk

"The main change in conservation I want to see is the return of environmentally friendly farming in the UK. Farms cover 75% of our land, and intensive farming is one of the leading causes of species decline in the UK – turtle doves, grey partridges, starlings and lapwing are all examples of birds suffering heavy decreases. If the government were to offer better financial incentives then it might become a more economically viable option for farmers. I would also like to see more recognition of the environment as a priority for governments. The way the human race is living is unsustainable, and although it would be impossible to completely halt our destruction of the planet at present, governments worldwide could certainly do more to limit it. The government has to recognise that they not only have the responsibility to preserve the natural world for future generations, but also to restore it wherever possible."
James, age 15 - @JamesNaturalist
Visit his website at: http://www.kneedeepinnature.co.uk


I hope it is clear from the responses above that young people, especially here in the UK, are passionate about the future of wildlife and the natural world. They're interested in current politics, and want to get involved with current affairs involving wildlife, which is fantastic and which is why I'm personally so glad the UN chose a theme involving young people, as it proves that when it comes to conservation, the next generation's voices are certainly valued.

In fact, this past year has seen a number of environmental movements in which young people have been heavily involved. From Hen Harriers, to the badger cull, teenagers from across the country have been voicing their opinions and getting stuck in in some truly inspirational conservation efforts.


Conservation is surely an important topic, and I'm pleased to see so many young naturalists are keen to get involved. What we have on this planet is special. The sheer biodiversity that exists among us here on Earth is truly astounding, and surely something worthy of care and protection. The environment should be among our top priorities, and yet, as a species, we seem to consistently fail to prioritise issues concerning the world around us, which I find incredibly frustrating. We need a world that cares more about the wildlife that we share our lives with, rather than a world where our governments and politicians appear to care more about themselves and their own reputations than actually changing things that have an impact on our future. 

I can only hope that this Wildlife Day helps bring more attention to the thoughts and opinions of young people across the globe, and to the incredible array of creatures that live alongside us, and how important wildlife and a healthy environment is to the future of our planet.

Thank you for reading this post - I hope you enjoyed! And be sure to #DoOneThingToday for World Wildlife Day!
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"It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living."
- Sir David Attenborough


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