Children who spend more time outdoors express a continued love of nature as young adults and are more likely to help protect the environment, a new study has found.
Researchers from University of British Columbia Okanagan in Canada, interviewed about 50 students between the ages of 18 to 25. Of the group, 100 per cent of females stated that they loved or somewhat loved nature and 87 per cent of males responded the same.
The study found that 87 per cent of the respondents who played outside as children expressed a continued love of nature as young adults. Of that group, 84 per cent said taking care of the environment was a priority.
"Developing positive experiences in nature at a young age can influence our attitudes and behaviours towards nature as adults," said Catherine Broom of University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus.
Environmental awareness programmes like Girl Guides or Boy Scouts may help develop children's environmental awareness and action, according to researchers.
"Our findings imply that providing positive childhood experiences in nature, such as outdoor school programmes, may help to develop care for the environment in adults," Broom said.
"However, these may not be sufficient unless programmes are building knowledge and self-awareness of environmental stewardship," she added.
Schools and early childhood classroom activities should connect positive experiences in nature with mindful learning and reflection that help empower students to take a personal role in protecting the environment by recycling, turning off the lights, and using alternative transportation methods, researchers said.
The study was published in the Australian Journal of Environmental Education.