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Generational gap in nature knowledge revealed

As we launch our annual Great Nature Watch campaign, we're calling for people to ‘Stop, Look and Listen’ to what’s happening around them, following survey results which show surprising gaps in people’s nature knowledge.

A group of girls spotting wildlife by the Montgomery Canal

This year we've worked with the renowned Wildlife Sound Recording Society (WSRS) to create a series of nature noises and challenge people to identify them as part of the our Wildlife Ear and Eye Q test.

Surveying toddlers to OAPs, the results showed that 25% of parents and 30% of children could not identify the sound a duck makes, plus 23% of parents and nearly a third of children thought that ducks have yellow feathers, perhaps the result of children's TV programmes such as Peppa Pig.

Parents believe they are less knowledgeable

Findings also show that 76% of parents believe that they are less knowledgeable about nature than the previous generation with 68% of parents also believing that their children are less knowledgeable about nature than they were at their age.

When put to the test the gap in wildlife knowledge between parents and their children is actually surprisingly close, however the gap between grandparents and their adult children and grandchildren is much bigger.

In a bid to stem this decline of wildlife knowledge, we've created an interactive test with audio and images so that you can test yourself about some of the wildlife you can find along our 2,000 miles of waterways.

Stop, look and listen

Dr Mark Robinson, national ecologist for the Canal & River Trust, says: “It's a shame to see that peoples knowledge of nature is declining, but this can easily be reversed. Did you know that a blackbird's song mimics its surrounding noise, or could you identify the sound a fox makes? Just step outside your front door, stop, look and listen, and you can hear such a variety of nature sounds.”

Additional results from the Ear and Eye Q test show that 63% of parents and 69% of their kids believe that owls can rotate their head 360 degrees, while both parents and their kids (44% & 54%) thought that goldfish have a mere three-second memory. In fact goldfish have the ability to store information for up to five months.

Richard Beard from the Wildlife Sound Recording Society, says: ‘It's great to be working with the Canal & River Trust on such an interesting topic. At the society we have been recording the sounds of nature for years, from the dawn chorus to the allusive otters. To be able to share these with the British public, as well as encourage everyone to listen to their surrounding nature, is fantastic.”

Last Edited: 16 May 2016

photo of a location on the canals
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