Regarding the headlines of most international media, it becomes obvious that nature related news do often have a negative touch. Climate change or the loss of biodiversity seem to be omnipresent during the several conferences held on these issues. Accidents like erupting volcanoes or even quite normal phenomena like a period of cold temperatures in winter are reported to be catastrophic incidents. So one might expect that this negative communication on nature might influence the attitudes of adolescents or young adults, who are said to be a generation of media addicts. But what do young people think about nature at all?
One of the objectives of this matter in hand study was to analyse the attitudes of the young generation towards nature in an international survey. Besides these more theoretical evaluation of nature concepts, the study also tried to evaluate the all day life experiences of the respondents with nature and their knowledge of different natural phenomena. How often do young people get in contact with nature in their all day life? What do they like to do outdoors? What do they think about it? What kind of decisions would they make if they are confronted with an ecological dilemma? Do our young people still recognize the species that are living in their surroundings? And last but not least: Do personal differences in social background, gender, age or the home of the interviewees have an influence on the attitude towards nature and the knowledge of species.
This large scale survey on the attitude of young European citizens towards nature was conducted within the COMENIUS project “NaTurE-Natural Treasures of Europe”. The gained data were interpreted in different fields. First of all the results can be very helpful for all teachers in environmental education, because it was possible to identify some clearly motivating factors, that should be taken into account while planning field trips and lessons.
Secondly the results are valuable to measure the knowledge of species within the European test group. In addition we could identify factors, that are related with a high knowledge of species, that can therefore be used to improve lessons on biodiversity.
Last but not least the results give an insight to understand how the attitude and knowledge of young people influence the way they would decide in situations, that are plurivalent.
In the end we surveyed 816 people across Europe with over 300 single questions. This results in almost a quarter million of single data records. The questionnaire itself and the interpretation of its results can be found attached to this article.