The National Trust has urged the government to tackle Britain's "nature deficit disorder" after warning that a lack of contact with the environment is having a negative impact on children's health and education.

While nature deficit disorder is not currently regarded as a medical condition the trust argues that the growing detachment of children from the natural world impairs their capacity to learn through experience.

Stephen Moss, who produced the Natural Childhood report, said: "This is about changing the way children grow up and see the world.

"The natural world doesn't come with an instruction leaflet, so it teaches you to use your creative imagination." 

The trust identified statistics showing that the area where children are allowed to range unsupervised around their homes has shrunk by 90% since the 1970s and rates of childhood obesity, self-harm and mental health disorders have climbed significantly in the same time period.

Their report, which will form the basis for a two-month consultation with the public and health specialists on tackling the problem, also states that:
-children learn more and behave better when lessons are conducted outdoors
-symptoms of children diagnosed with ADHD improve when they are exposed to nature
-children say their happiness depends more on having things to do outdoors more than owning technology

National Trust director-general Fiona Reynolds concluded: ""As a nation, we need to do everything we can to make it easy and safe for our children to get outdoors.

"We want to move the debate on and encourage people and organisations to think about how we take practical steps to reconnect children with the natural world and inspire them to get outdoors."

Posted 03/04/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com