87% of Young Scots think we need to protect the environment

New research reveals young people’s relationships and attitudes to nature.

A new survey of young people in Scotland found nearly three quarters  (74 per cent) enjoy spending time in nature and that one in nine (87 per cent) agree we need to protect the natural environment, says Scotland’s national youth biodiversity panel, ReRoute.

The survey suggests that there is a relationship between the amount of time a young person spends outdoors and their attitudes towards enjoying and protecting the natural environment. Nearly one in five (18 per cent) of respondents had signed an environmental petition or participated in a campaign in the last 12 months. Around half of those who hadn’t said they would be interested in doing so in the future.

The survey suggests that young people in Scotland generally appreciate the benefits they get from nature – such as health, wellbeing and relaxation. Young Scots say they would be encouraged to engage with nature if it involved sport and exercise, events they can do with their friends or activities involving animals and wildlife.

ReRoute surveyed 1,103 young people aged 11 – 25 from all local council areas in Scotland. The research was conducted in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Young Scot to develop ideas for engaging young people in Scotland’s biodiversity. In 2018, Scotland’s Year of Young People, ReRoute will make recommendations to SNH on how to increase young people’s engagement.

ReRoute aims to increase young people’s engagement with and enjoyment of Scotland’s biodiversity and landscapes. ReRoute and SNH are linking this work to Scotland’s Biodiversity Strategy and Route Map to 2020.

Davie McKinnon, aged 16, from ReRoute, said: “Being part of ReRoute has been an incredible experience so far. I’m passionate about our environment and it’s amazing to hear the things that get other young people excited and out into the natural world. We have a lot of work to do before we present our recommendations on how to get young people engaged but this survey will be invaluable.”

Ian Ross, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) chairman, said:

“This survey defies and disproves the stereotype that young people don’t care about nature and are instead inside glued to their phones and tablets. Instead, to their credit, we know that many young people value and enjoy the natural world and its wildlife. They recognise the benefits of an active lifestyle – whether it’s walking the dog or sauntering along the beach, it’s healthy for us all, both in mind and body. We can also see that many young people are well motivated to protect our rich landscapes and nature.  This is a fine example for all of us to follow. The key message for everyone, young and old, is to visit and enjoy the outdoors and gain the many benefits it offers!”

Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive of Young Scot, said “The ReRoute team has put in a huge amount of work to produce this initial report and they’ve been supported by a fantastic number of young people across Scotland who participated in the survey. Scotland has one of the most amazing natural environments in the world – the ReRoute project aims to find ways to help young people engage with it more often and more regularly. I can’t wait to hear the ReRoute recommendations in 2018.”

You can access the full ReRoute report here