Environmental Education

Environmental Education for kids

“When we connect with nature, we learn to appreciate it more deeply”.

Source: WiseGEEK
Information for Parents and Teachers
Here’s just an overview of what Environmental Education entails and why it is important to motivate children to participate in nature activities.

Source: Forest Services USDA
Children just don’t spend enough quality time in a natural environment
Children just aren't accustomed to being outside anymore and they’ve little opportunity to experience nature because of technological advances. Regardless of where they live, children are isolated from the natural world as a result of spending most of their time indoors when they get back from school. Many parents are concerned by this fact. Many young children have limited opportunities for these wonderful educational experiences. There has been a considerably large decline of appreciation for nature in recent years, which, in turn, have had far-reaching impacts on both the children’s health, and their appreciation for the nature and their behavior towards living things. But, this has various negative impacts, especially on their health. This is known as a Nature Deficit Disorder. In many instances, because they are not frequently exposed to nature and its inhabitants, they are fearful of forests, beaches, or wetlands.

This means that children are possibly never going to develop positive attitudes and feelings toward the natural environment or achieve a healthy familiarity with their environment. An important question posed is “how can we convince a child that he/she has a right and responsibility to protect our natural resources if he/she is blind to the existence of nature in his/her own neighborhood? If we’re not cautious, soon children will hear about glaciers, rain forests, and disappearing islands, and then ask, “What does that have to do with me?” which will be detrimental for the environment.

Why should my child(ren) spend some time in the natural environment?

Source: Daily Record
As children are inquisitive by nature, the natural environment provides the perfect platform for to learn more about all living things. Who said anything about classrooms only having four walls? It’s one thing to learn out of a text book, but it is quite another thing to have a hands-on experience outdoors. It is essential that children learn about nature through real interactions. 

Source: Psychology Today
Once children have had opportunities to investigate their natural surroundings, they’ll be motivated to ask questions. They will only truly connect with the natural environment when they have regular and meaningful interactions with our beautiful earth. Achieving positive stewardship outcomes can be enhanced through approaches that build life skills while teaching about the environment and conservation. So, please, allow your children to have some fun outdoors and to get dirty, it will only be to their advantage if they do.

Source: Easy Earth
Every child (and adult, for that matter) should be able to experience the roar of crashing waves, the solitude of a forest, and the awe-inspiring views of geographical landscapes.

Source: Children & Nature Network

It’s beneficial to spend time in nature

Source: Wilder Child
Outdoor experiential learning is vitally important. Environmental education programs can assist in connecting children to nature in their backyards and at beaches, parks, and forests, thereby fostering an understanding of and appreciation for natural resources. Environmental education isn’t only good for the planet, as kids who spend time outside have been proven to be happier, healthier, and smarter. They learn about animals, plants, ecology, nature, and environmental issues. Children’s academic performance in Science, Math, English and Social Sciences increase significantly when they have hands-on experiences with nature and the outdoors. They’ll also have a sense of ownership and responsibility to their surroundings and develop a strong sense of attachment to natural environment.

There are special enlightened moments, one of which is when kids realize that they are smart in a different way from classroom smart. They learn to engage beyond awareness and awe to critical thinking and problem solving in the habitats they are exploring. They will have an increase personal sense of responsibility to conserve the natural environment, and also be aware of how their behavior and actions affect the environment, or, importantly, in the degree to which they practice conservation behaviors. By gaining the required knowledge, it will inevitably lead to a change in children’s behaviors and attitude. Children’s environmental knowledge is enhanced by learning about ecology and conservation. Nature can provide an outdoor science lab of some sort.  By taking children on field trips to remote pristine areas, it will help them develop an appreciation for nature and better understand ecology.

Let children spend as much time outdoors as possible. The most important thing about Environmental Education is that it has a lifelong impact on children’s (and adults’) lives. It is about celebrating the earth – every day. 

Start as early as possible
Source: Green Bank Woodland
Because children’s appreciation for nature develops at a young age already, it’s important to expose children to environmental education elements as early as possible. Young children are willing and eager to do their part in saving our planet; they just need adult help and encouragement.  Environmental education, based on life experiences, should begin very early on as these types of experiences play a critical role in shaping lifelong attitudes, values, and patterns of behaviour toward natural environments. The rationale behind this is that, first of all, children must develop a sense of respect and caring for the natural environment during their first few years of life as they are at risk for never developing such attitudes. Secondly, positive interactions with the natural environment are an important part of healthy child development, and these interactions not only enhance learning but also their quality of life. Children who are close to nature relate to it as a source of wonder, joy, and awe. Wonder (rather than books, words, or learning all the facts) provides an excellent direction and impetus (motivation) for environmental education in early childhood. EE during the early years should be based on this sense of wonder and the joy of discovery. It focuses primarily on young children exploring and enjoying the world of nature under the guidance and with the companionship of caring adults. Young children often develop an emotional attachment to what is familiar and comfortable to them. Consequently, if they are to develop a sense of connectedness with the natural world, they need frequent positive experiences with the outdoors.Feelings, rather than facts, are more important when introducing young children to the world of nature. 

Source: Hilton Head Island

The effectiveness and importance of Environmental Education programs
Source: Camping Road Trip
Source: Pinterest
EE can essentially be seen as an outdoor school. The definition of nature should be expanded to include the places where kids live, learn, and play. The simple fact is that Environmental Education Programs help kids (re)connect with the earth. EE programs can assist in elevating skills such as problem-solving, coping, and assertiveness. EE programs help to grow other life skills, such as cultural literacy, media literacy, communication, and also form good habits of the mind, prepare young people for adult employment, and fuel new levels of social and cultural capital. Adding environmental education to regular curricular activities helps children understand why their actions contribute to the condition of the world. Child-orientated environmental education influences adult knowledge and household behavior. EE is about pursuing an environmental stewardship. Being comfortable in nature is an important precursor for children to ultimately become stewards and conservationists.

Environmental education plays an important role in building awareness about how to live in such a way that they will conserves and protects resources for future generations. These types of educational programs are critical in fostering not only a healthier, but also safer planet. An important question posed is: “If our young people don’t spend time outside or have a basic understanding of science and ethics, how can we expect them to handle the environmental challenges we currently face as a society?” There are many opportunities for developing literacy, math and science skills when kids are outdoors as well as develop life skills. These types of experiences expand and reinforce what students are learning in school, principally in science classes. Educators employing environmental education methods can make classroom learning relevant, create meaningful science investigations, and help build a new generation of conservationists. One crucial aspect is to teach children to have empathy for living creatures. It’s all about getting dirty while having a fun, enjoyable, interesting, knowledgeable, practical, field-based, and hands-on experience. It is about incorporating wildlife and nature lesson plans. They will soon become aware of attitudes, responsibility, and caring for the environment. As a result of children learning best through direct, concrete experiences, they need to be immersed in the outdoor environment to learn about it. Learning has to require active involvement -- hands-on manipulation, sensory engagement, and self-initiated explorations. Children will be very comfortable being in nature.  By wholeheartedly participating in an Environmental Education program, it will transform them.

Source: The Riekes Center

Environmental stewardship behavior should be life-long. While single, brief, one-day long outdoor experiences certainly can make a strong impression, but on-going, regular exposure to nature will be beneficial in the long run. Pristine, remote areas offer rich nature-based experiences.

Environmental education activities can be integrated into all subject areas, including:

Source: Project Learning Tree
It incorporates ways in which to refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle, and describe features of local plants and animals, compare local plants & animals, learning about the food chain, and describe attributes of their immediate environment.

Social Studies
Source: The Irish Examiner
Here it is about showing an awareness of the concept of change, as well as identifying groups and places that are part of their lives, characteristics of different local environments, and to show responsible behavior in caring for the environment.

Language, Arts, and Math
Integrate the abovementioned aspects with classifying, comparing, counting, and graphing activities and making booklets and charts.

Physical Education
Source: Reader's Digest
This involves using the outdoors as a place to get physical exercise, but also to learn about how to care for the environment by participating (e.g., five times a week) in moderate to vigorous physical activities, as well as, importantly, to identify physical activities they enjoy doing.

Drama, Music, and Visual Arts
This involves expressing ideas or concerns about an environmental issue with drama, and songs, and showing their knowledge of and responding to environmental issues with 2-D and 3-D images.
Source: Nature Connections organization

Environmental Education includes aspects such as: animals, plants, water, endangered animals, farming and food, rain forest, polar animals, flowers/gardening, food:  fruit, vegetables, etc., trees/forestry, ocean theme, water cycle, global warming, seasons, and volcanoes. It also emphasizes the fact that natural and human systems are all connected.

It is about taking responsible actions and explore the environmental impact of what they do. As children participate in environmental education activities, they will inevitably develop an understanding of environmental issues and form an environmental ethic of their own.

Teachers/Parents’ role
Source: Telugu One

In order to get as much out of an environmental education experience, teachers and parents’ assistance is required. 
As you model excitement about nature, having an interest in it, and caring for the environment, your children will also inevitably become enthusiastic. You, as their parents/guardians play a crucial role as they watch and imitate your attitude, behavior and actions towards the all living things. A lot of kids are very motivated, but they need guidance. Parents and teachers are the most important person in children's lives in terms of cultivating that reverence for the environment. When you do this, you’re empowering the children. One of the most important aspects that teachers must remember is to aligning what is learned in nature to what kids are learning in school – especially in science class. This will ensure that progress is accelerated. Providing opportunities for such environmental experiences and sharing them with young children is the essence of environmental education. All children should strive to experience the outdoors and to achieve this, your assistance is required.

Because young children learn about the environment by interacting with it, educators and other adults must attend to the frequency, nature, and quality of child-environment interactions. Moreover, if you help children become aware of what's around them, and also help them to be comfortable about it, they are not just going to respect it but they will also want to protect it. It is hoped that, because of this positive environmental influence, they'll grow up to be responsible, caring, knowledgeable adults, who will be custodians of Planet Earth. By modelling a caring attitude and respect for the natural environment, it will be a good incentive for children to do the same.

By demonstrating a personal interest in and enjoyment of the natural world, are critical to your child's interest in the environment. Exposure to nature activities should be provided on an almost daily basis in order to achieve optimal results. A one-time trip to a park or nature preserve will have a limited impact on young children.

But, how can I do it?
Focus the children’s attention on their immediate environment, the school, their homes and nearby parks.

This learning experience should be done in a particular order, following a pattern of 1) awareness or appreciation 2) knowledge, which then leads to 3) understanding, and then to 4) responsibility.

A strategy for making it meaningful starts with their voices: Ask what issues they care about in their community and identify connections to environmental topics, followed by exploring ways they can make a positive difference in their community and for the environment.

It can also be achieved by providing frequent positive experiences outdoors.

Environmental Education activities, games, and resources
There are a myriad of practical, hands-on, field-based experiences, activities, and games that can be done. When children are outside, they’ll investigate, ask questions, and explore without teacher led experiences. Include as many field trips outside as possible, throughout the year. In the beginning, focus on activities at home in the backyard or at school. The most important thing to remember is that they engage with the environment and immerse themselves with what nature has to offer. Focus one small living creature; don’t overwhelm them by looking at a whole forest. Besides investigating the elements of the natural world already present in an outdoor setting, it’s important to use different strategies to transform a typical playground into an environmental yard, including by adding bird feeders, wind socks, flower and vegetable gardens, tree houses, rock piles, and logs. Find small ways to learn about nature and explore it by visiting a beautiful place, looking after an animal, a meditative walk, or tend a garden. Afterwards, provide them with tools for experimenting and investigating (such as a magnifying glass, water hose and bucket, hoe, rake). Here it is important to focus on “experiencing” rather than “teaching”.  They will gradually engage in deeper, longer, nature-based activities.

Young children should not be expected to "watch and listen" for any length of time, nor should they be expected to always follow your lead or agenda. Focus on what children find of interest rather than competing for attention through adult-selected activities and materials.

ü  Take a field trip to e.g. a nearby pond, wetland, forest, mountain, or beach.
Source: Brunette in Red
ü  Grow a children’s garden to get kids excited about the environment
ü  Plant trees at your school or at home
ü  Teach the children to be observant at all times - ask them to name the creatures based on their own observations. Also, encourage students to notice the habitat that specific insects live in.
Source: iStock
ü  Supply the students with plenty of materials to make observation booklets such as “My Pond/Forest/Wetland/Beach Book”.
ü  Go hiking
ü  Talking to children about taking care of the Earth is not as effective as demonstrating simple ways of expressing their care and respect. This can be done by gently handling plants and animals in the classroom and at home, establishing or maintaining outdoor habitats for wildlife, properly disposing of trash, and recycling or reusing as many materials as possible.
ü  Provide on-going experiences with the grass, trees, and insects in environments close to home or school and, after being accustomed to nature, arrange day trips to a park, nature reserve, beach, or forest.

When children compare what they learn in the garden with what they learn in the forest, noting the impacts of human intervention in natural systems, they’ll develop an even stronger sense of what is helpful and what is harmful.

Source: Texas Children in Nature
The most important thing to always teach them about the four Ls of learning about living creatures:
·         Look at them
·         Learn about them
·         Let them go
·         Leave them alone.

While out and about in nature, ask the following questions:
·         What’s your favourite thing about being in nature?
·         Where’s is your favourite place in nature? Write a description, draw a picture or describe the place to someone else.
·         What makes it special?
·         What sounds do you hear? Do this once the children are quiet so that everybody can hear and give their own observations and opinions.

Get your children involved in protecting the planet
For young and older children

Start an Eco- or wildlife club at school
Participate or inspire children to start their own club at school. This is an effective way to protect the planet. This is one of the best ways to teach children about the environment. It can also be a recycling club. This will be twofold: It is using you as a parent/teacher as a model and practice what you preach, but also teach them about all of the important things that is happening with our environment. Many children would love to be a leader. Not only is it teaching them leadership skills, it's teaching them about being responsible.

Join local environmental organisations
These organisations are always appreciative of people volunteering their time and even the little ones can play a positive role.

Observing the Micro-Universe
Peg out a 1 metre x 1 metre (3ft x 3ft) square in a patch of nature.  Sit in the square for 20 minutes, focusing only focus on what is inside the square.  Observe the terrain and the myriad of natural dramas which are unfolding on the micro-scale.

Star therapy
Lie down under the night sky and watch the stars (or clouds in the daytime). 

Camping in the Backyard
It is nice to go on outdoor camping trips, but why not camp in your own backyard?

Nature Scavenger Hunt
In a nature area, give participants this list of items and send them off to collect them either alone or in pairs depending on age group. Adjust the difficulty with every age group. An example is to hand out an egg carton and a list of 12 items to collect (natural items which are: soft, spiky, blue, strong, beautiful, old, fragile, yummy, sharp, smooth, closed, open, wet, dry, from an animal, dead, etc. (be creative).

Studying trees
Convey the basic facts about trees and then each child chooses their own tree and then study it. For the older kids, more detailed facts can be given.

Nature trail sheet
Create a nature trail sheet – let them search for everything on the list. Add a photograph of every aspect (animal, tree, plant, insect, etc.) and a short description. Once they have found all of them, give them a small present for their effort.

Plan special and significant games and activities around these different environmental days:
Earth Hour - 24 March

Earth Day - 22 April 

World Environment Day - 5 June

International Beach Clean-up Day - 16 September

More activities and games for young children
Source: Natural Start Alliance
Begin with simple experiences. Young children learn best through experiences that relate to what is already familiar and comfortable. Thus, the best place to start is in an environment similar to what they already know. For example, focus on a single tree in a backyard or playground before venturing into a heavily wooded area.
·         Stickers - Kids love stickers. This is self-explanatory
·         Natural Orchestra - Create a musical performance using only natural materials.
·         Leaf Rainbow - This is a nature art exercise. In small groups, students search for leaves of different shades and colours and essentially create a leaf rainbow.
·         Species fact sheets – this is very informative. Provide them with a few facts about each species. Do not only let them learn about these species, but let them search for each species, too.

More activities and games for older children
Source: National Environmental Education Foundation
·         Start a Camping Team - Inspire your students to spend a night under the stars by participating
·         Tell the children to bring their camera with. They’ll be able to take stunning photographs.
·         Bring photography into your classroom by challenging your students to take photos of the nature around them and enter Ranger Rick's "Your Best Shot" Photo Contest.
·         Schoolyard Habitats - Learn how to start or develop your Schoolyard Habitat into an engaging outdoor classroom filled with fun lessons about plants, wildlife and ecosystems.
·         Young Reporters for the Environment Find out how your class can enter this environmental journalism competition.
·         "Unplug Me" Reminder Cards - Students create original reminder cards to unplug appliances for their schools and homes.
·         Fundraise to Help Wildlife - learn a few options for channelling this passion into action and let us know what you're up to!
·         Night Eyes - Go for a night walk without a flashlight (torch). At first, sit in one place and let your eyes adjust (10-15 minutes).
·         Sensual Awareness Inventory - An eco-therapy exercise adapted for a group setting.  Participants identify what experiences give them pleasure through each of their five senses, then share and discuss this with the group.
·         Solo Hour in Nature - We are rarely "still" in nature.  Visit a natural place that is conveniently available.  Spend one hour in silence.  Simply observe and be.  Relaxing and opening.
·         Secret Smells - A guessing competition - use different smells from nature (e.g., flowers, leaves) - who can guess them right?
·         Make an organic garden and composting system
·         Role-playing – Each participant play the role of a part of the natural environment, then speak during a "council of all beings" where there are no humans present. Before the role playing begins, participants make each make a mask to represent their particular aspect of nature. This if a fun and educational activity.
v  Portraying the Elements: Earth, Air, Fire & Water (Drama/improvisation warm-up) - Allocate each person an element and discuss what kind of personality/behaviour attributes belong with to each elements as well as how humans-induced activities impact them.  Then have people move through the play space, acting out their element.  Rotate through each element.
v  Another option is about the impact of litter and pollutants on our sea birds and marine animals. Commonly found items (including plastic bags, bottle tops and cigarette butts), can be fatally mistaken by coastal birds and animals.  Students must work in pairs, one is the narrator and one is the coastal animal. In this way, role playing will help learners identify with the animal and allows them to be creative in developing a narrative and actions. For younger groups, the teacher can narrate.
·         The Recycle Challenge
1.      Use study of worm farms with students to help understand the food chain and how nature recycles.
2.      Also, children can be taught to recycle at school where they sort all the different materials. Emphasise the positive impact it can have on the environment.

Extra resources
Search for the following websites for inspiration too:

Children of the Earth – This is another useful website as it promotes a greater understanding and respect for animals, plants, water, soil, air and energy systems. Furthermore, it aids in helping children to understand the positive and negative environmental effects of our actions.

Climate Classroom Kids - Access climate change lesson plans, fun volunteer activities, guidelines, and tips for discussing climate change with children.

Cool the Earth
Resources designed to engage kids and their families in climate change by motivating them to take simple actions to conserve energy.

Earth science is emerging as a demanding high-school science course that prepares learners for informed citizenship.

Earth Matters 4 Kids – Earth Matters correlates science with basic environmental principles, helping teachers, students (K-6) and community members gain a full understanding of how science works in natural surroundings, by bringing a virtual natural world into the classroom.

Eco-schools International – visit their website.

EekoWorld - a website specifically focusing on teaching kids ages 6 to 9 how they can help take care of the earth. They make use of animated characters use games and activities to present environmental facts about ecosystems and pollution.

Environmental Curriculum (Think Earth) – This comprehensive, award-winning curriculum teaches students about the importance of a clean, healthy environment and about what they can do to: conserve natural resources; reduce waste; and minimize pollution.

Environmental Education Activities & Resources - Green projects, lesson plans, activities, professional development, and more.

Environmental Education for Kids – It is an informative, online magazine for grades four to eight, comprising articles and activities about animals, plants and environmental issues.

Global Warming Kids Site – It helps to explain what global warming is and what causes it, and what they can do to help stop it. It uses simple global warming-themed games and gives a scientific term and a definition thereof.

Green Foundation Curriculum - Environmental education lessons that provide step-by-step instructions and assessment strategies.

Green Guide for Kids – It gives children, their families and teachers with information, projects and solutions to help keep the planet green.

Kids Planet – learning about how children can help defend the environment.

Kids Saving Energy – Games, tips, facts and information for kids to learn how to save energy.

Lesson Plans - Download lesson plans and curriculum ideas for teaching about wildlife, habitat, conservation and more.

National Geographic Kids - Read kids’ stories and interviews with scientists, watch videos, look at facts and photos of animals, try activities and games. Find out what everyone’s reading about on the site.

Nature Works Everywhere - Get your family back to nature! This site offers easy tools and tips for planning a family nature adventure. Enter the age of your kids, how much time you have, and the location and the website gives you ideas for activities and events.

Ocean Explorer - Find hundreds of lesson plans built around specific ocean exploration expeditions around the globe.

Ranger Rick Magazine - National Wildlife Federation's award-winning children's magazine is packed with engaging content and activities for kids.

Recycle City –This is a fantastic way for kids to learn the basics of recycling. You can even create your own Recycle City scavenger hunt.

The Green Squad – This is an important website, showing how to identify and solve environmental problems.

Treetures – As the name suggests, it’s all about trees and their importance.

The fact is in order to create a better tomorrow, it is critical that children are taught how to preserve the environment today. Helping children understand that there are many ways that they can participate in making the earth a healthier place to live, by planting a tree seedling, for instance, can have long term consequences.

Source: Shutterstock

Source: Youtube




Coral reefs
Source: Genetic Literacy Project
Source: From the Grapevine
There is no doubt: Coral reefs are some of the most stunning places on Earth and colourful and diverse ecosystems. Though the total area of the world's coral reefs amounts to less than one quarter of 1% of the entire marine environment, they have a huge effect on the health of the rest of the world (Mother Nature Network). Coral reefs are extremely important to life in the ocean. Healthy coral reefs mean healthy oceans which means healthy planet (Mother Nature Network). The variety of life supported by coral reefs rivals even that of the Amazonian or New Guinea tropical forests. Coral reefs are among the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet (Darling and Fraser 2013) as they are home to tens of thousands of marine species. In fact, they are second only to rainforests in biodiversity of species. They cover less than 0.2% of our oceans but contain 25% of the world's marine fish species! Interestingly, although coral reefs are kind of like an enigma as they are among the most flourishing ecosystems on Earth, and they support high diversity and high biomass, yet they achieve this in some of the least fertile waters on Earth.

Defining Coral Reefs
Geologically speaking, reefs can be defined as “masses of carbonate limestone, built up from the sea floor by the accumulation of the skeletal material of many coral reef plants and animals”. They can also be described as “diverse underwater ecosystems held together by calcium carbonate structures secreted by corals”.  Corals are not plants - they're actually ancient animals and are relatives of jellyfish and anemones. They are built by “colonies of tiny animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups”. Corals are simple, clonal invertebrates that serve as ecosystem engineers, building living structures (reefs) so large that they can be seen from space (Burkepile and Hay 2008). It is important to note that a coral reef mustn’t be seen as a “biome” or “ecosystem”, but rather like a living community.

There are three types of reefs:
Source: Marinebio.net
·      Fringing reefs occur along shorelines of continents and islands. It is commonly found in Hawaii and the Caribbean. It gets its name from being closer to shore than a barrier reef. They are arranged like a fringe around the shallow waters.
Source: Wikipedia
 ·      Barrier reefs are found farther offshore and in deeper waters. They are found most often in the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean.
Source: Britannica
·         Atolls are a series of low coral islands surrounding a central lagoon, frequently found in the Indo-Pacific.
Source: Ducati Performance Parts
Each polyp excretes a calcium carbonate exoskeleton beneath it and, over an extended period, the skeletons of many coral colonies add up to build the structure of a coral reef.

Range and Location
Source: NOAA CoRIS
Coral reefs cover more than 250,000 kmof the ocean (all of them in the world add up to less than one per cent of the sea floor – an area about the size of France). Coral reefs are found all around the world in clear, tropical and subtropical oceans, and even in unexpected places have discovered cold water coral reefs off the coast of Norway and deep underwater in the Mediterranean Sea. The greatest diversity of species occurs in the Indo-Pacific region and a second, less diverse, region centred on the western Atlantic. One third of the world's coral reefs are located in South East Asia, hosting some of the highest levels of marine biodiversity on Earth. Coral reefs need water that is between 68 - 82°F (20 - 28°C), which is often located along the eastern shores of land. Corals live normally close to the surface where the sun's rays can reach the algae. They are typically found in shallow areas at a depth of less than 150 feet because they need sunlight to survive. But, some coral reefs can extend even deeper (up to about 450 feet deep).

Large coral reefs are rarely found in areas above 29 latitude where ocean temperatures fall below 18oC for extended periods as this slows coral growth and their capacity to build large reefs (Burkepile and Hay 2008). Reefs are abundantly found in areas with shallow coastlines and clear, warm water where riverine discharge of sediments is low (Burkepile and Hay 2008). The most biologically diverse reefs occur in the tropical Indo-Pacific in the areas around Indonesia and the Philippines and house over 550 species of coral and thousands of species of fish (Burkepile and Hay 2008). The Great Barrier Reef off north-eastern Australia is the largest reef in the world with more than 2800 individual reefs occupying over 1800 km of the Australian coastline and can be seen from outer space (Burkepile and Hay 2008).

An individual coral (polyp) is a small organism consisting largely of a stomach topped by a tentacle-bearing mouth. These polyps extend their tentacles at night to sting and ingest tiny organisms (plankton) and other small creatures. Reefs only occur in shallow areas that are reachable by sunlight as a result of their relationship with algae. Many types of microscopic algae (Symbiodinium) live inside of the coral and provide them with food and help them to grow faster. In many ways, reef-building corals are animals that act like plants – they stay in one place and get some of their energy from the sun. Corals get most of their nutrients from the by-products of the algae's photosynthesis. But they also have barbed, venomous tentacles they stick out, usually at night, to grab zooplankton and even small fish.

They usually develop in areas that have a lot of wave action as the waves bring in food, nutrients and oxygen to the reef. Waves prevent sediment from falling on the reef. Reefs need calcium from the water to grow, which is often only available in shallow warm waters.

Importance of Coral Reefs
Coral reef ecosystems are important for many reasons:
·         Coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse and economically important ecosystems on the planet. Corals provide valuable and vital ecosystem services. They act as home and nursery grounds for many economically important marine species, protect coastlines from erosion, and provide food sources and income to millions of people living along coastlines (Zvulonic et al 2015). It provides immense ecological and economic benefits that contribute to the welfare of millions of people (Darling and Fraser 2013). They provide services that are vital to human societies and industries through fisheries, coastal protection, building materials, new biochemical compounds, and tourism.
·         They not only provide incredible value as wildlife habitat, but also protect coastlines from storms. Moreover they provide billions of dollars of food and jobs every year to people around the world.  
·         They form the nurseries for about a quarter of the ocean's fish - including commercially important species.
·         The biodiversity translates directly into food security, income, and a multitude of other benefits to people.
·      Coral reefs play an important role in the survival of our planet because it not only directly supports a marine ecosystem, but it also provides important benefits for mankind.
·         For several coastal areas, coral reefs are also able to provide an important barrier against storms, hurricanes, and typhoons.
·         Reefs assist also in being nurseries for large fish species, keeping them safe until they are large enough to strike out into the deeper ocean. A myriad of animals use coral reefs either as a stopping point (like an oasis) as they travel the deep blue sea, or they live as residents at the reef.
·         Coral reefs are vital for ocean and human health as well as our wellbeing.
·         Corals are tiny organisms (polyps) that attach themselves to the hard reef and live there indefinitely.
·         Coral reefs are valuable to the fishing and tourism industries, as well as protecting shorelines from storm damage.
·         Reefs are an important location for finding food, shelter, mates and places to reproduce.
·         They remove and recycle carbon dioxide (a gas that contributes to global warming).
·         They protect land from harsh weather by absorbing the impact from strong waves and storms.
·         They provide food, for example, lobster and conch. Coral reefs are also a huge tourist attraction.
·         Coral reefs are a large source of biodiversity.
·         Without the reef, many of these plants and animals would die.
·         Coral reefs are a useful educational tool as people can learn more about biomes and ecosystems, and the interrelationship between organisms and their environment by studying these coral reefs.
·         Particularly, fish, invertebrates, algae and microorganisms – make their homes on and around reefs.
·         A coral colony is formed when thousands of identical polyps live together.

Roughly one-quarter of coral reefs worldwide are already considered damaged beyond repair, with another two-thirds under serious threat (WWF). Scientists have predicted that in the next 50 years many of the coral reefs on Earth will be gone. We have already lost 27% of the world's coral reefs and if present rates of destruction continue, 60% of the world's coral reefs will be destroyed over the next 30 years. Reefs often recover from acute disturbances such as storms but infrequently recover from chronic disturbances. The coupling of acute natural disturbances with chronic anthropogenic disturbances often leads to precipitous declines in coral reef health (Burkepile and Hay 2008; Zvulonic et al 2015).

There are many problems facing not only coral reefs but also their habitats today. Coral reefs around the world have been declining at an alarming rate due to increasing human impacts. Despite the significance of coral reefs, these wildlife habitats are imperiled throughout the world. Sadly, fragile coral reefs that are already under increasing pressure associated with a range of natural and human causes has resulted in substantial degradation. This has ultimately led to a loss of coral cover and shifts in community structure. It should be noted that the impacts of these events have varied spatially and taxonomically. Even some of the most remote and pristine reefs are losing species. An estimated 75 per cent of remaining coral reefs are currently threatened. They are subject to many terrestrial, atmospheric, and oceanic influences. Many of these are directly related to human activities. Over the past years, losses and changes of marine biodiversity in coral reef ecosystems by anthropogenic activities, natural phenomena, and poor land management practices have become urgent issues (Zvulonic et al 2015). Coral reefs are also one of the most vulnerable ecosystems to climate change (these rapid environmental changes are occurring against a background of other widespread human-induced disturbances (anthropogenic activities) such as overexploitation, destructive fishing practices which removes species with important ecological functions, coastal runoff, coastal development, pollution,  climate change, ocean acidification, unsustainable tourism, and invasive species, which may ultimately stress corals to the brink of extinction (Darling and Fraser 2013; Zvulonic et al 2015; Burkepile and Hay 2008). Reefs located near human population centres are subjected to multiple stresses simultaneously and so suffer losses in diversity and cover. Meeting local demands can have multiple negative effects on the local environment. More than half of the world’s coral reefs are faced with high levels of human activities. The cumulative impacts of local and global stressors have resulted in widespread losses of live coral cover and an elevated risk of extinction to one-third of all reef-building corals.  The loss of healthy reefs may therefore limit the protection they can provide to coastal communities. The concept of resilience now underpins much of the thinking about the management of coral reefs (Darling and Fraser 2013).

Notably, coral reef ecosystems are particularly sensitive to climate-induced changes in the physical environment. Coral reef communities are likely to change in the future as reef organisms respond differently to various stressors. In order to predict future reef compositions, we apply estimates of coral and fish vulnerability to two key stressors; climate change (bleaching) and fishing. Most corals were vulnerable to one or both stressors, and future coral communities are likely to comprise stress-tolerant and weedy life histories (McClanahan et al 2014). Over the past 150 years, sea surface pH has dropped by 0.1 units and sea surface acidity has increased by 26% (Darling and Fraser 2013). Ocean warming and acidification are only two of the many manifestations of climate change. Other potential influences include sea level rise and changes in storm regimes caused by warmer SSTs (Darling and Fraser 2013).

Although biotic interactions (e.g., competition and herbivory) are emphasized as having important consequences for coral reef structure, abiotic disturbances such as hurricanes, temperature fluctuations, sedimentation stress, and sea-level change also produce long-lasting effects on reefs (Burkepile and Hay 2008).

Coral Bleaching
Coral bleaching is  rapidly becoming a global concern. Abnormally high ocean temperatures are being observed more frequently, and these temperatures could lead to mass bleaching event. Over the past century, average global sea surface temperatures (SSTs) have risen by 0.6 C and temperature anomalies, i.e., deviations from long-term temperature averages, are occurring more frequently (Darling and Fraser 2013). Furthermore, bleaching is caused by elevated sea surface temperatures, low temperature, sedimentation, extreme salinities or light levels, or bacterial infection.

Coral Bleaching - before and after. Source: New Heaven Dive School
Rising seawater temperature due to climatic changes is an extremely serious and global cause of stress to corals. When temperatures are too high, the relationship between corals and their symbiotic microalgae unfortunately breaks down. The algae are responsible for giving corals their mesmerizingly bright colour but when this occurs, corals appear white (“bleached”). Coral bleaching occurs when corals degrade or expel their dinoflagellate symbionts in response to environmental stressors such as elevated sea surface temperature and increased UV radiation. Just one degree above the typical summer max can cause corals to become bleached. What is more is that if the temperature is too high for too long, corals (and their microalgae) are unable to recover. Over the last couple of decades, bleaching has become more frequent, intense, and widespread which has ultimately led to massive, global die offs of corals (Burkepile and Hay 2008).

Source: Atlas Obscura
In severe cases, bleaching may occur on the scale of hundreds to thousands of kilometers and radically alter coral cover and composition with coral mortality from bleaching events approaching 100% in extreme cases (Burkepile and Hay 2008). Large-scale bleaching and mortality of branching corals can suppress fish populations that are dependent on live coral for shelter and food (Burkepile and Hay 2008). Moreover, due to warmer oceanic temperatures, there are more disease-related problems as these high-temperatures allow corals to become sick more easily, and allow disease-causing organisms to grow faster.

Ocean Acidification

Source: Sound Waves Monthly Newsletter - US Geological Survey
Ocean acidification is another serious threat to coral reefs. Because carbon dioxide (CO2) is more frequently released into the atmosphere and it has adverse effects on the oceans. Some of the excess CO2 from the atmosphere is absorbed by seawater which ultimately cases the oceans to become more acidic. Shockingly, the oceans’ acidity has increased by 25 per cent over the past 200 years. Consequently, these acidic conditions dissolve coral skeletons (which make up the structure of the reef) and limit coral to grow effectively. If something isn’t done, scientists estimate that the oceans could become 150 per cent more acidic by the end of this century. This will mean that corals will have a hard time to grow.

Source: NOAA National Ocean Service
Coral reefs are negatively impacted by destructive fishing and exploitation to supply the coral reef wildlife trade. Frequently poisons (e.g. cyanide) are dumped into the water in order to stun fish to easily catch them. Sadly, it not only kills fish, but also corals, other forms of wildlife. This also leads to degrading the reef habitat. Overfishing affects the ecological balance of coral reef communities negatively, warping the food chain.

Sediments, nutrients, and toxins released from deforestation, agriculture, and industry, are hydrologically transported to coral reefs through local rivers which ends up in the ocean, where it can 'smother' corals by depriving them of the light needed to survive.

Source: NOAA National Ocean Service
Urban and industrial waste, sewage, agrochemicals, and oil pollution are unfortunately poisoning reefs as it is dumped directly into the ocean or carried by river systems from sources upstream. Sewage and runoff from farming increase nitrogen levels in seawater which causes an overgrowth of algae, ‘smothering’ reefs by cutting their sunlight off.

Climate change
Source: NOAA National Ocean Service
Climate change is an unprecedented threat. Corals cannot survive if the water temperature is too high. Unfortunately, global warming has already led to increased levels of coral bleaching and will increase in frequency and severity in the next few decades. Climate change is fundamentally altering ocean chemistry. Approximately one-third of atmospheric CO2 emissions are absorbed by the oceans and dissolve to reduce ocean pH, effectively increasing the acidity of seawater (Darling and Fraser 2013).  If even the conservative predictions of global climate models are realized, these climate changes could result in the fundamental reorganization of the ecology of coral reefs (Burkepile and Hay 2008).

Resilience is a measure of the persistence of systems and of their ability to absorb change and disturbance, and still maintain the same relationships between populations or state variables. Ecosystems are dynamic, spatially and temporally heterogeneous, and can exist in multiple alternative states depending on environmental conditions. An ecosystem may be resilient for two reasons. On the one hand, an ecosystem may be resistant to a given perturbation. Carpenter et al. (2001) defined resistance as the amount of external pressure needed to bring about a given amount of disturbance in a system. On the other hand, two ecosystems may have similar resistance to a given perturbation, but may differ in their potential for recovery, that is their ability and/or swiftness to return to a state that is functionally similar to the pre-disturbance state (Darling and Fraser 2013).

Crazily cool facts about Coral Reefs
·         The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the largest living thing on the planet.
Source: Science
Source: WWF
·      Reefs that are noticeable in size (like the aforementioned reef) are between 5 and 10,000 years old.
·         The Great Barrier Reef comprises of 900 smaller reefs! It covers about 1,200 miles (1900 km) and crosses over 500 islands. Unsurprisingly, it is one of the most visited reefs in the world, and, judging by the pictures below, one can easily see why:
Source: Serge the Concierge
·         The shape of a coral reef forms a natural protective barrier against storm waves and the waves break apart on the reef, so they don’t hit the shore at full force. A reef is called a “barrier” when its presence is able to protect the shallow waters along the shore from the open sea, thereby protecting and promoting the survival of several sea plants and animal life.
·         A coral reef is a community of life that lives and thrives in one location.
·         Interestingly, what we think of as the base of the reef and what we see when it is dry and removed from the water are only one small aspect of a living reef!
·         Various fish and sea creatures choose to spawn in reefs as their eggs will be safe from predators.
·         Coral reefs assist in improving the nearby water quality as they act as a filter, trapping things floating in the water, which makes for cleaner water all around.
·         Reefs essentially grow where there are stronger wave patterns and currents as it delivers more food for the ecosystem that creates the reef structure.
·         A coral reef needs sunlight to grow and, thus, they hardly ever grow in waters deeper than 45 feet.
·         Corals can be an assortment of colours, white, red, pink, green, blue, orange, and purple, due to natural pigments and the zooxanthellae in their tissues.
·         They also are more likely to be found in tropical oceans, as the water is clearer and warmer.
·         Coral reefs provide a space for feeding and raising babies for many of the sea mammals because the coral reef can stabilize the seabed for seagrasses.
·         Coral reefs play an imperative role in helping to manage carbon monoxide levels.
·         Wherever coral reefs grow, the sea bed is more stable and it helps seagrass and other sea plants to survive in the area. The more plants are growing on the sea bed, the less impact storms and surges will have on seabed too.
·         Coral reefs are found in 109 countries but significant reef degradation has occurred in 93 countries.
·         More than 80% of the world's shallow reefs are severely over-fished.
·         Southeast Asia is the global epicentre of marine diversity: Its 100,000km2 of coral reefs (34% of the world's total) are home to over 600 of the 800 reef-building coral species in the world.
·         Indonesia and the Philippines hold 77% of Southeast Asia's coral reefs and nearly 80% of threatened reefs.
·         All corals have been listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) since 1990.
·         More than 450 million people live within 60 kilometres of coral reefs, with the majority directly or indirectly deriving food and income from them.
·         There can be as many different types of fish in two acres of coral reef in Southeast Asia as there are species of birds on the entire continent of North America.
·         Corals are related to i.e. sea anemones and sea jellies. They make use of their tentacles for defence and to capture their prey.

Coral reefs have survived tens of thousands of years of natural change, but without urgent action to address threats, these beautiful and life-sustaining organisms could disappear, and their survival would be unknown.

Burt, J.A., Coles, S., van Lavieren, H., Taylor, O., Looker, E., & Samimi-Namin, K. 2015. Oman's coral reefs: A unique ecosystem challenged by natural and man-related stresses and in need of conservation. Marine Pollution Bulletin.

Burkepile, D.E. & Hay, M.E.2008. Coral Reefs. Elsevier B.V.

Chavanicha, S., Soong, K., Zvulonic, A., Rinkevichd, B., Alinoe, P.2015. Conservation, management, and restoration of coral reefs. Zoology 118 p. 132–134.

Darling, E.S. & Cote, I.M. 2013. Vulnerability of Coral Reefs.

McClanahan, T.R., Graham, N.A.J., & Darling, E.S. 2014. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 7:59–64.

Mother Nature Network. Fascinating Facts about Coral Reefs. http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/5-fascinating-facts-about-coral-reefs

Source: Listovative
It is vitally important that the current generations sufficiently prepare our children for the future that they will inherit. Moreover, they will become the problem solvers, decision-makers as well as the leaders. Children will be able to face the numerous environmental challenges because they are adequately equipped and prepared. Therefore, it is imperative that, through Environmental Education (EE), children are taught valuable environmental lessons as well as how to solve environmental problems. 

Botkin (1990) (as cited in Colwell 1997) defines nature as “the natural world on the Earth as it exists without human beings or civilization. It includes mountains, plains, rivers, lakes, oceans, air, rocks along with all non-human, non-domesticated living things”. The environment is the habitat in which living things maintain their reciprocation and interact with each other throughout their lifetimes. Because life and environment are interdependent, environment is a vital human element (Genc 2015).

Source: Mother Nature Network
Alarming global socio-environmental problems have recently occurred. Moreover, this has led to complex conservation challenges because our climate is changing, and natural resources are frequently overused and are quickly vanishing, and, sadly, many people have lost interest in the natural world.
Source: Transforming Life Now
Notably, environmental issues will (and already are) some of the most pressing issues as global population continues to grow exponentially and which place huge strain on the Earth’s resources and ecosystems. Thus, it is also important to understand how individual decisions influence the environment. Because of rising environmental concerns and because they are extremely complex, broadly-based problem solving skills are required.  Human life and natural life are based on various balances. The environmental balance that human beings maintain is among the most important. 

Reducing environmental problems and increasing the number of environmentally sensitive individuals is only possible through education (Genc 2015). Children must have a comprehensive understanding of environmental issues and, undoubtedly, then, youth must contribute to solving these environmental problems.

What is even more worrisome is the fact that a general decrease in the amount of time children spend outdoors has occurred. So much so, that they are often disconnected from nature, a phenomenon that has been observed frequently over the last couple of years and outdoor learning is lacking in different areas. In particular, direct experiences of nature are observed less and less in an urbanised world. Unfortunately, the majority of children today grow up indoors and as a result of their plugged-in lives (growing up in a highly technological environment), there has been a devoid to explore the natural world and limited contact with nature as they’ve been completely cut off from the natural environment. Moreover, if children are detached from nature, they won’t be able to adequately learn about, understand, and value nature. Additionally, it will extremely difficult for them to be stewards of our valuable resources (Forest Foundation (sa)).

Louv (2005) (as cited in Ernst and Theimar 2011) speaks of a “nature-deficit disorder” and Forest Foundation (sa) notes that “this has various serious consequences for their health: attention difficulties, hyperactivity, childhood obesity, diminished use of senses, and disconnect from things that are real”. Louv (as cited in Ernst and Theimar 2011) poses the question in his book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder: If this gap between children and nature continues to widen, where will future conservationists come from?

Environmental sensitivity appears to be rooted in childhood experiences in nature (Ernst and Theimar 2011). In particular, early childhood is ideal to instill environmental awareness. During this ideal time for learning, children not only have fresh, uncluttered minds but have a strong natural curiosity to learn. This can only be achieved by instilling good moral values. If done effectively, imaginatively and universally, such education would sustain them through their lives’ sojourn in ways ensuring that a reasonable global environmental capital is left behind for future generations (Nath [sa]).

During early childhood, according to Westervelt and Llewellyn (1985) (as cited in Ernst and Theimar 2011) “children are actively searching for more information about animals and their attitudes toward animals are still forming, this age provides excellent opportunities for fostering an appreciation for the natural world”. Children as young as pre-school age should be involved in EE. At this age they are very susceptible to the influence of teachers and other people (Lubomira 2004). EE programs may have a greater potential to foster connectedness if they reach younger, rather than older students”. 

Source: Recmanagement
Source: Invermereyoga
It is important to include connectedness to nature in EE due its relationship to environmental sensitivity and its potential link to environmental behavior (Ernst and Theimar 2011). Children, being close to the natural environment, tend to relate to it as a source of joy and wonder. It is important that children relate to the natural environment wholeheartedly so as to preserve its integrity in the interests of both present and future generations (Naft [sa]) and this will ensure that they have a sensitivity towards Mother Nature. A connection to nature is integral in fostering responsible environmental behavior and environmental protection (Ernst and Theimar 2011).

Mayer & Frantz (2004) (as cited in Ernst and Theimar 2011) note that “if people feel connected to nature, then they will be less likely to harm it, for harming it would in essence harming their very self”. Kimbell (as cited in Ernst and Theimar 2011) notes that “children need a direct connection to both forests and nature for their health and personal growth and for the future of conservation”. Children must have a sense of connection to some part of the non-human natural environment. They must have a belief that the environment is important to us and an important part of who we are (Ernst and Theimar 2011). It is important that children are daily exposed to natural settings and thus it is imperative to wholeheartedly encourage children to re-connect, which will ultimately mean that a conservation ethic is fostered, and to stimulate their awareness and curiosity about the environment. Children must experience nature and bond with nature by just ‘being’ in nature (Ernst and Theimar 2011). A sense of oneness with the natural world occurs.

Source: Boredpanda
The human–nature relationship has been explored in numerous ways, often with an emphasis on the ‘affective’ domain, but some incorporating cognitive (knowledge and beliefs) and behavioral/psychomotor (actions and experiences) aspects as well. Human–place bonding, referring to the emotional bond that develops between an individual and the environment, is also of significance.The idea that humans are part of nature has rendered nature an ambiguous term. On the one hand, nature means a world from which humans are excluded; on the other hand, it means a world they are part of. The necessity of creating proper relations between humans, nature and the environment requires extensive teaching (Lubomira 2004; Colwell 1997; Ernst and Theimar 2011).


9.1.Defining Environmental Education (EE)
Environmental education is an important, emerging discipline. In 1968, the UNESCO Biosphere Conference in Paris issued a declaration that there was a worldwide awareness of the field of EE. It was then defined as the process of recognizing values and clarifying concepts in order to develop skills and attitudes necessary to understand and appreciate the inter-relatedness among man, his culture, and his biophysical surroundings. EE also entails practice in decision making and self-formulation of a code of behavior about issues concerning environmental quality (Palmer 1998) (as cited in Kopnina 2012). UNESCO (1977) defines EE as constituting a “comprehensive, lifelong education, one responsive to changes in a rapidly changing world. It should prepare the individual for life, through an understanding of the major problems of the contemporary world, and the provision of skills and attributes needed to play a productive role towards improving life and protecting the environment with due regard given to ethical values”. 

EE is the study of the relationships and interactions between dynamic natural and human systems. It includes learning in the field as well as the classroom; it incorporates the teaching methods of outdoor education, experiential education, and place-based education; and it is inherently multi-disciplinary (includes elements of biology, chemistry, physics, ecology, earth science, atmospheric science, mathematics, and geography) (No Children Left Inside (sa)).EE means educating “for” the environment, with strategies that promote critical thinking over knowledge transmission, investigation over indoctrination, and collaborative, local, science-based solutions over advocacy-driven measures (Short 2009).

Source: Smore
EE is a process that allows individuals to explore environmental issues, engage in problem solving, and take action to improve the environment. As a result, individuals develop a deeper understanding of environmental issues and have the skills to make informed and responsible decisions (US Environmental Protection Agency (sa)). EE is about teaching how natural environments functions and how people can live enables knowledge of the environment and its problems and what the solutions thereof can be. It is about studying various things in natural surroundings. Chiappo (1978) (as cited in Kopnina 2012) argues “EE should be critical in fostering awareness of the social and political factors of the problem. EE should favor a return to harmony with nature in order to redress the balance of the ecosystem and to enable man’s full potential to flourish”. It is also fundamental to educate them on the need to care for and respect the natural environment instead of exploiting it carelessly or degrading it. Thus, in short, EE must be holistic and about connections, involving getting children outside to experience nature first-hand. 

9.2.Components of EE
Source: Corvallis Environmental Center
Important distinctions between the goals of EE were made by Lucas (1979) ‘in’, ‘about’ or ‘for’ the environment in order to avoid misunderstandings about the intended type of EE (Kopnina 2012). EE comprises three interlinked components: Knowledge (education about the environment); Values, Attitudes and Positive actions (education for the environment); and, lastly, a Resource (education through the environment). The components of EE are awareness and sensitivity to the environment and environmental challenges; knowledge and understanding of the environment and environmental challenges; attitudes of concern for the environment and motivation to improve or maintain environmental quality; skills to identify and help resolve environmental challenges; and to participation in activities that lead to the resolution of environmental challenges (US Environmental Protection Agency (sa)). There are many forms of EE: experiential lessons in the school yard, field trips to national parks, after-school green clubs, and school-wide sustainability projects. Celebration of Earth Day or participation in EE week (run through the National Environmental Education Foundation) can help further EE. Effective programs promote a holistic approach and lead by example, using sustainable practices in the school to encourage students and parents to bring environmental education into their home (Wikipedia).It is about encouraging children to examine and interpret the environment from different perspectives including physical, geographical, biological, sociological, historical, aesthetic, and ethical. Nature can be seen as a science lab of sorts. 

9.3.Importance of EE
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) states that EE is vital in imparting an inherent respect for nature and in enhancing public environmental awareness. Children experiencing small-scale successes can become empowered and motivated for a lifetime of responsible actions on a larger scale. 

Source: Waffee
Barnett, Vaughn, Strauss, and Cotter (2011) (as cited in Genc 2015) state that “by engaging students in locally focused, in-depth and targeted environmental science investigations, students could develop the confidence to investigate and solve local problems, increasing their certainty in their ability to study science and perform scientific investigations”. It promotes school/community partnerships; it is hands-on, student-centered, inquiry driven, engages higher level thinking skills, and relevant to students' everyday lives; and children develop awareness, increases knowledge, builds skills, and creates the capacity for stewardship and good citizenship regarding the environment upon which we depend for life support (No Children Left Inside (sa)).

By actively participating in nature-related activities, children are able to make well-informed decisions with regards to the environment. Through this, they get a first-hand observation of nature. Furthermore, they are able to maintain, protect & improve the quality of environment. Thus, they assist in safeguarding the ecological balance and as Ernst, Blood & Beery (2015) note, “youth are important drivers of innovation and change”. The development of an environmentally literate and active citizenry capable of thinking critically about environmental issues to work toward improvement or maintenance of environmental conditions is important (Short 2009). Because of the experiences that children have now, a greater potential for future environmental leadership will occur. Local, hands-on experience helps children develop environmental concern. Because EE programs frequently incorporate experiences in nature, and opportunities to learn and practice action skills in a local and relevant context, they have the ability to foster connectedness to nature, particularly when they include frequent and/or extended experiences (Ernst and Theimar 2011).

9.4.Aims of EE
EE’s foundational aim is action toward the solution of environmental problems (UNESCO 1978) (as cited in Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015). 

Source: The Green Market Oracle
EE is “aimed at producing a citizenry that is knowledgeable concerning the biophysical environment and its associated problems, aware of how to help solve these problems, and motivated to work towards their solution” (Stapp et al. 1969 as cited in Pooley & O’Connor 2002). It is about assessing environmental issues, finding feasible solutions to any problems that are identified, and creating pro-environmental behavior (Magnus, Martinez, & Pedauye, 1997 as cited in Pooley & O’Connor 2002). It is about developing independent, critical thinkers equipped with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary for long-term responsible behaviors (Short 2009). 

EE focuses on: Engaging with citizens of all demographics to think critically, ethically, and creatively when evaluating environmental issues; make educated judgments about those environmental issues; develop skills and a commitment to act independently and collectively to sustain and enhance the environment; and to enhance their appreciation of the environment; resulting in positive environmental behavioral change (WIKIPEDIA). 

9.5.EE objectives
The ultimate objective of EE, according to the Tbilisi Declaration, is interpreted to be the people’s active involvement in working toward the resolution of environmental problems (Short 2009). As stated in the Tbilisi Declaration (UNESCO 1978), the objectives for EE include awareness, knowledge, attitudes, skills, and participation (Ernst and Theimar 2011). Furthermore it is about increasing people’s awareness about environmental issues and explore potential solutions. It is also about laying the foundations for a totally informed and active participation of individual in protecting the environment as well as the sustainable and rational use of natural resources.
Source: Merid

EE objectives include (The Global Development Research Center (sa)):
·  Participation - to provide individuals, groups and societies with opportunities to be actively involved in exercising their skills of environmental citizenship and be actively involved at all levels in working towards sustainable development. 
·     Knowledge - to help individuals, groups and societies gain a variety of experiences in, and a basic understanding of, the knowledge and action competencies required for sustainable development 
·    Values - to help individuals, groups and societies acquire feelings of concern for issues of sustainability as well as a set of values upon which they can make judgments about appropriate ways of acting individually and with others to promote sustainable development 
Source: Oise Toronto
·  Skills - to help individuals, groups and societies acquire the action competence or skills of environmental citizenship - in order to be able to identify and anticipate environmental problems and work with others to resolve, minimize and prevent them 
·     Awareness - to create an overall understanding of the impacts and effects of behaviors and lifestyles - on both the local and global environments, and on the short-term and long-term.

One of the EE’s primary objectives is to raise an environmentally literate society. Environmentally literate individuals are those who are sensitive to the environment, informed about the environment and maintain a positive attitude toward the environment (Genc 2015).

9.6.Benefits of EE

EE helps address “nature deficit disorder” as children spend way too much time indoors and which have led to various negative psychological and physical effects including obesity, loneliness, depression, attention problems and greater social isolation due to reduced time with friends and family. Environmental education is an important aspect for successful environmental management and an important way to reconnect kids to nature. Environmental education links classroom learning to the real world. By integrating science curriculum in environmental education, it improves student achievement in science. Participating in environmental activities, there is a wonderful improvement in student performances especially in science and math, and there is increased focus/improved cognition. It also has led to building an environmental literacy and therefore children will then be more likely to take actions to conserve the environment. It builds critical thinking, and relationship skills. It emphasizes specific critical thinking skills central to “good science”— questioning, investigating, forming hypotheses, interpreting data, analyzing, developing conclusions, and solving problems. It also enhances basic life skills. Children also participate in hands-on activities. It also has self-control/self-discipline benefits for children with ADD. Children are physically active and creative. Their overall emotional well being is also good. They also have an increased engagement and enthusiasm for learning. Children will also be wholeheartedly encouraged to pursue environmental and natural resources careers (Forest Foundation (sa); Archie, 2003). EE assists in learning children the things that books and video screens can’t. They can view natural aspects up close by seeing in-depth how ecological systems work and how their elements work together.  

EE must provide opportunities to acquire environmental knowledge, values, attitudes, commitment, skills, and behaviors (Genc 2015) needed to protect and improve the environment and to empower these environmental leaders to address natural resource conservation challenges and to have an informed concern to actively participate in resolving environmental problems.

10.1.        Attitude
The right attitudes towards environment will be nurtured in children minds. The degree to which an individual associates oneself with nature is directly related to the types of attitudes s/he develops (Ernst and Theimar 2011). Nath [sa] notes that “how we treat nature and the environment is fundamentally determined by our attitude to it. Also, our attitude is shaped by our moral values. If people are serious about protecting the environment, then the prevailing exploitative attitude to nature must give way to one of respect and care.

Newhouse (1990) (as cited in Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015) suggests environmental attitudes may be one of the most important influences on behaviors. Environmental attitudes can be in regards to the environment in a general sense (or in the sense of some aspect of the environment, such as wildlife); or they can be in regards to taking environmental action (Hines, Hungerford, and Tomera 1986; 1987) (as cited in Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015). Because attitude influences behavior, individuals adopting a positive environmental attitude have taken a significant step toward a sustainable environment (Genc 2015). Unsurprisingly, promoting positive attitudes towards Mother Nature is imperative if children are to value it and to understand their important role in safeguarding it for the future. Experiences in nature develop positively caring attitudes toward the environment. Environmental attitudes may be based on different sources of information, and therefore attitudes toward specific environmental issues may be predicted by both cognition (beliefs) and affect (emotions or feelings) (Pooley & O’Connor 2002).

Environmental sensitivity is a set of affective characteristics that result in an individual viewing the environment from an empathetic perspective (Peterson (1982 as cited in Ernst and Theimar 2011). Chawla (1998)(as cited in Ernst and Theimar 2011) notes that “environmental sensitivity is a predisposition to take an interest in learning about the environment, feeling concern for it, and acting to conserve it, on the basis of formative experiences. Environmental sensitivity is associated with responsible environmental behavior (Ernst and Theimar 2011).

10.2.        Behavior
Because a clear goal of environmental education is to change behavior, it would be advantageous first to understand the basis of environmental attitudes to facilitate changing environmental behavior (Pooley & O’Connor 2002). Pro-environmental behavior is personal actions that are directly related to environmental improvement and it means a greater concern for other living things on earth. By enhancing their appreciation of the environment it will not only result in positive environmental behavioral change, but it will also help them to think critically when evaluating environmental issues. Pro-environmental behavior is ‘probably best viewed as a mixture of self-interest and of concern for other people, the next generation, other species, or whole ecosystems’ (Bamberg and Möser 2007) (as cited in Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015). An implied goal of environmental education is to facilitate a change in environmental behavior (Short 2009). Human behaviors can only be assessed, of course, by the “frequency, intensity, duration, latency, and perseverance of the actions” (Short 2009).

While there is research suggesting a relationship between connectedness to nature and pro-environmental behavior, it is unclear as to the strength and nature of this relationship. While it seems to be assumed that connectedness influences behavior, perhaps pro-environmental behavior (actions in the environment, where children act on behalf of the environment and see their actions make a difference) instead promotes a feeling of oneness or connectedness with the environmental around them (Ernst and Theimar 2011). Children are then able to fully develop environmentally conscious behavior. Education intertwined with action is an instrumental means for encouraging behavioral change (Schelly et al. 2012) (as cited in Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015). An emotional affinity toward nature is a strong predictor of nature-protective behavior. Nature experiences have significant correlations with pro-environmental behaviors. The more one has an effective connection with the natural environment, the greater one’s intentions to engage with it (Ernst and Theimar 2011). 

10.3.        Morals
Moral (personal) norms are feelings of strong moral obligations to engage in pro-social behavior. People are more likely to feel a moral obligation to act in ways that benefit others when they are aware of the consequences of their actions and when they ascribe at least some responsibility for these consequences to themselves (Schwartz 1977) (as cited in Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015). 

10.4.        Information and Knowledge
Source: Recycle Nation
Models guiding current environmental education efforts typically include environmental knowledge and attitudes along with a broader set of demographic and psycho-social variables and external factors (Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015). We need to give individuals more environmental information, more environmental knowledge to change their environmental behavior (Pooley & O’Connor 2002). Environmental knowledge and attitudes have been shown to influence environmental behaviors and action (Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015). Developing EE can successfully be done by disseminating environmental information through experiences in the natural environment, and developing knowledge through formal teaching situations and the media. We need to give individuals more environmental information, more environmental knowledge to change their environmental behavior (Hungerford & Volk, 1990) (as cited in Pooley & O’Connor 2002).

10.5.        Responsibility
By exposing children to a natural setting, it will lead to instilling an environmental ethic in them and develop an enhanced understanding and responsibility of nature. They are able to take their own responsibility and accountability for environmental problems and issues. By taking personal ownership in the issues they address, their involvement in environmental action becomes integrated into their sense of identity (Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015). 

10.6.        Action
As Short (2009) points out “if behavior is the wind, then action is the observable and measurable sway of the tree”. Jensen (2002) (as cited in Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015) recommends EE that develops ‘the abilities of students to act at the personal and societal levels, that is, to increase their action competence’, which ‘includes the capacity to be able to act, now and in the future, and to be responsible for one’s actions’ (Jensen and Schnack 1997) (as cited in Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015). Direct or indirect action involves a conscious decision to act and is directed toward solving an environmental problem (Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015). Every opportunity for environmental action is likely to positively impact students’ growth (Short 2009). Action is the goal of education. In EE, the type of action desired is that which maintains or improves conditions necessary for ecosystem stability, biological diversity, and abundance (Short 2009). Intention toward future involvement in environmental action is also of utmost importance.

Nature activities in childhood and youth, as well as examples of parents, teachers, and other role models who show an interest in nature predispose people to take an interest in nature themselves and later work for its protection (Ernst and Theimar 2011). Teachers are most influential in educating children and teenagers to be tomorrow’s leaders in environmental advocacy (Esa 2010) (as cited in Genc 2015). For more effective EE active learning methods must be implemented. If teachers have positive environmental attitudes, their students will have positive environmental attitudes and be automatically aware of environmental problems (Ozden 2008) (as cited in Genc 2015).  Chawla and Derr (2012) (as cited in Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015) suggest that although life paths toward environmental action vary in different contexts, experiences in natural areas and family members are major influences in childhood and adolescence, as are teachers peers, youth organizations, and seeing environmental destruction (Short 2009).

Source: Pisces Foundation
No positive participation by young students should ever be discouraged, regardless of how insignificant the immediate environmental impact may appear to be. It is imperative that prospective teachers are environmentally sensitive individuals, who volunteer to solve environmental problems and develop positive environmental attitudes so that they can educate their students in a similar vein (Short 2009).

Strategies to get children into nature are important. These target areas include: knowledge about environmental issues; building self-efficacy; developing skills in problem-solving, decision-making, and action-taking through ‘empowering students with choice, using local real problems, and enabling youth to witness the results of their activity’ (Monroe 2003) (as cited in Ernst and Theimar 2011). Chawla and Cushing (2007) note that “conditions and strategies such as knowledge about environmental issues, practicing action skills, taking ownership of environmental issues, participation in environmental clubs and organizations, and everyday life experiences/positive experiences in nature are important”.

Various authors (Liefländer 2015; Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015; Ernst and Theimar 2011) conducted research and the key findings were as follows: (1) Younger pupils initially showed a stronger connectedness to nature and stronger pro-environmental attitudes than older pupils. (2) For both age groups, the environmental education program was equally effective over the short-term; however, it was more effective for the younger students six weeks after participation with regard to connectedness and attitudes (3) Environmental knowledge increased and persisted in both age groups (Liefländer 2015). Negev et al. (2008) (as cited in Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015) found stronger correlations between attitudes and behaviors among younger students than older students. Participants had strong intentions toward future involvement in the form of continued and/or future participation in identifying and addressing environmental issues during their remaining high school and/or upcoming college years, participating in environmental or conservation efforts or organizations through service or volunteerism, taking courses pertaining to learning about or addressing environmental issues in college, and considering a career in an environmentally-related field (Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015).

Participants with higher levels of (more positive) environmental attitudes prior to participation were more likely to implement their environmental action projects (Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015). Those who associate themselves with the natural environment tend to hold more biospheric attitudes, while those with less of an association may still be concerned about the environment, but focused more narrowly on issues that directly affect the individual (Ernst and Theimar 2011). 

While there is overlap, there also may be distinctness between predictors of youths’ (and specifically student environmental leaders) environmental action (in the broader conception of action) and predictors of adults’ pro-environmental behavior (specific individual, private-sphere behavior) (Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015). Research conducted by Kals, Schumacher, & Montada (1999) (as cited in Ernst and Theimar 2011) found that “the first most significant predictor of affinity toward nature is frequency of time in nature, and the second most significant predictor being past frequency of time in nature (time during childhood)”.

There are a multitude of barriers that can intervene between intention to act and actual action. Hines, Hungerford, and Tomera (1986) (as cited in Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015)  describe ‘additional factors’ including economic, social, or feasibility factors that can pose a significant enough barrier that prevents action. Similarly, Blake (1999) identifies ‘practicality’ barriers, such as lack of time, money, and encouragement. Stern, Dietz, and Kalof (1993) (as cited in Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015) add a weighing of priorities to the list of potential barriers. Heberlein (2012) (as cited in Ernst, Blood & Beery 2015) emphasizes a consideration of how technology and structure (physical and organizational), in addition to information, can create both barriers and opportunities for human behavior change and environmental action. The most significant factor that restrains the development of environmentally conscious behavior is lack of awareness. 

Thus, learning experiences and knowledge about nature are crucial. When children learn about the importance of conserving the environment, they will have a greater passion and interest in saving it.Nature must be an integral part of their childhood. Children, did you hear that? Nature is calling. 


Colwell, T. 1997. Viewpoint: The Nature—Culture Distinction and the Future of Environmental Education. The Journal of Environmental Education, 28:4, 4-8.

Ernst, J. & Theimer, S. 2011. Evaluating the effects of environmental education programming on connectedness to nature, Environmental Education Research, 17:5, 577-598.

Ernst, J., Blood, N. & Beery, T. 2015. Environmental action and student environmental leaders: exploring the influence of environmental attitudes, locus of control, and sense of personal responsibility, Environmental Education Research

Genc, M. 2015. The project-based learning approach in environmental education, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 24:2, 105-117.

Kopnina, H. 2012. Education for sustainable development (ESD): The turn away from ‘environment’ in environmental education? Environmental Education Research, 18:5, 699-717.

Liefländer , A.K. 2015. Effectiveness of environmental education on water: connectedness to nature, environmental attitudes and environmental knowledge, Environmental Education Research, 21:1, 145-146.

Lubomira, D. 2004. Environmental Education at Pre-school, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 13:3, 258-263. 

Nath, B. [Sa]. Importance of Teaching Environmental Education at an Early Age. Environmental Education and Awareness Vol. 1. Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS).

Pooley, J.M. & O’Connor, M.  2000. Environmental Education And Attitudes: Emotions and Beliefs Are What Is Needed. Environment and Behavior, Vol. 32 No. 5, p. 711-723. Sage Publications, Inc.

Short, P.C. 2009. Responsible Environmental Action: Its Role and Status in Environmental Education and Environmental Quality. The Journal of Environmental Education, 41:1, 7-21.

The Global Development Research Center. “Environmental Education”. Accessed on 19/09/2016. Available at: http://www.gdrc.org/uem/ee/2-1.html


An Introduction to CITES

Since its inception in 1975, CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) has grown and evolved. In Washington D.C., on 3 March 1973, 80 countries agreed the text of the convention and on 1 July 1975 CITES was initiated. CITES is an international, voluntary agreement between governments. Their ultimate aim is to abundantly ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants doesn’t threaten their survival. They seek effective strategies to protect conservational species from overexploitation due to primarily trade. It is also the only international and legally-binding treaty to control the trade in endangered species.

CITES is one of the most effective multilateral environmental agreements in existence and is the most effective multilateral wildlife conservation regime (Downes 2016) (as cited in IFAW 2016). CITES comprises of 183 Parties (States that have agreed to be bound by the convention). They seek to accommodate the interests of these Parties with different degrees of institutional capacity and resources to implement the Convention. They have also grown in complexity due to the fact that there is an increasing number of species which require protection from over-exploitation. CITES has been among the conservation agreements with the largest membership. It remains one of the world's most authoritative and powerful tools for biodiversity conservation because they regulate trade in wild fauna and flora.

Over the last 40 years, CITES has regulated trade in more than 35,000 species and has helped save iconic species like elephants, tigers, rhinos, and many others from extinction (Downes 2016) (as cited in IFAW 2016). The CITES Appendices now include more than 35,000 species, including approximately 5,500 species of animals and 29,500 species of plants. It regulates international trades, including their products and derivatives, ensuring their survival in the wild with benefits for the livelihoods of local people and the global environment (CITES CoP 17).

Implementing CITES is challenging, even with abundant resources (IFAW 2016). International collaboration and cooperation is of utmost importance due to the fact that trade crosses national borders and to ensure that trade is controlled and takes sustainably place while simultaneously ensure that it doesn’t threaten or endanger wildlife.

CITES alone cannot change the conservation status of most species threatened with extinction and we must call on more appropriate international bodies and coordinated action by governments to address those broader threats, including the undeniable threat of climate change. However, CITES can give species the chance they deserve to recover their numbers, and in doing so, help Parties achieve their goals under other international agreements, including sustainable development regimes (Downes 2016) (as cited in IFAW 2016).

International wildlife trade is annually estimated to be worth billions of dollars including hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens, making it one of the most lucrative transnational organised criminal activities.  Levels of exploitation of some animal and plant species are high and the trade in them, together with other factors, such as habitat loss, is capable of heavily depleting their populations and even bringing some species close to extinction. Many wildlife species in trade are not endangered, but the existence of an agreement to ensure the sustainability of the trade is important in order to safeguard these resources for the future (CITES CoP 17 JHB). It impacts the tourism industry and the livelihoods of local communities as well as hindering progress with regards to sustainable development and poverty alleviation.


Species are listed on one of three appendices, according to the degree of protection they need and how threatened they are by international trade. Appendices I, II and III to the Convention are lists of species that include different levels or types of protection from over-exploitation. Since the Convention commenced, more than 30,000 species of animals and plants have been listed, from tigers and elephants to mahogany and orchids.

Appendix I

It includes 900 species that are presently threatened with extinction and are or may be affected by trade. They are the most endangered among CITES-listed animals and plants. Species cannot be traded internationally for commercial purposes. Article II(1) of the Convention states that “trade in specimens of these species must be subject to particularly strict regulation (IFAW 2016). Examples include: tiger, Himalayan brown bear, elephant, and Tibetan antelope.

Appendix II

It includes 34,000 species which may become threatened unless trade is strictly regulated to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival. It is necessary to have two-thirds majority of Parties present and voting is required to include a species. These species aren’t necessarily threatened now with extinction but may become so unless their trade is strictly regulated. It also includes “look-alike” species (those species for which specimens in trade resemble those of other species included in Appendix I or II) (IFAW 2016). These species can be traded internationally for commercial purposes, but within strict regulations, requiring determinations of sustainability and legality. Examples include: Hippopotamus, bigleaf mahogany, and the grey wolf.

Appendix III

Species are included solely on the basis of a decision of a range State. Trade requires CITES documentation but no biological findings. It includes species unilaterally listed by individual Parties, but which will require issuance of CITES documents by all range States. These species are subject to domestic protections within their range. It specifically list species included at the request of a Party that already regulates trade in the species which requires the cooperation of other countries to prevent unsustainable or illegal exploitation. International trade in specimens of these species is only allowed on presentation of the appropriate permits or certificates.

Conference of the Parties (CoP)

The Conference of the Parties (CoP) is the decision-making body of the Convention. The CoP consists of all Parties to the Convention and a meeting between them to review the implementation of the Convention. The CoP, meeting in plenary, adopts species proposals, resolutions, and decisions of the Parties (IFAW 2016).

At meetings of the Conference of the Parties, which are held every two to three years, the Parties assess a species’ vulnerability and determine in which Appendix, if any, to place the species (IFAW 2016). Their main purposes are to: review progress in the conservation of species listed under CITES; consider, and where appropriate adopt, proposals to amend the lists of species under CITES; recommend measures to improve the effectiveness of the Convention; and make provisions necessary to allow the CITES Secretariat to function effectively.

CoP 17

The 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP17) will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa from 24 September to 5 October 2016 at the Sandton Convention Centre. This meeting will be the fourth held on the African continent since CITES commenced in 1975. It will be the first one held on the continent since 2000. South Africa offered to host CoP17 at the 16th meeting of the CoP (Bangkok in 2013), which was approved by acclamation.

South Africa was amongst the first States to join CITES – only a few months after it was initiated. The country has actively participated in the work of the Convention since then. South Africa was specifically chosen because it’s a decidedly suitable location for the 17th CoP as they are facing numerous wildlife challenges and opportunities. These are currently being tackled. Africa is home to an immense array of CITES-listed species and South Africa is globally recognised for 'the Big Five' (namely Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion, and Leopoard).

Rhino poaching will feature on the agenda of CoP17, tying in with the logo of the conference, an iconic image of the African white rhinoceros. The rhino's body comprises the outlines of a number of species of endangered plants and animals from the African continent, such as the pangolin, cycad, African aloe and African lion. The rhino was chosen given South Africa's status as home to the largest rhino populations in the world and to draw attention to the challenges of poaching (CITES CoP 17 JHB).

In particular, CITES CoP17 assists in communicating and raising vital awareness about the importance of species and wildlife conservation as well as the urgent need to address the illegal trade in species, while simultaneously supporting legal trade supported by sound sustainable utilisation principles. Their aim is to prevent endangered species from being hunted and traded into extinction.
What will happen at CoP 17?

This meeting will bring the global community together to tackle challenges and opportunities of the world's biggest wildlife.

All of the Parties will make critical decisions with regards to wildlife trade policy and the scope of regulatory control over international trade in specific species. They will also evaluate the progress that has been made since 2013, as well as take the necessary decisions on what additional measures are needed to end illicit wildlife trafficking. It is also about coming up with resolutions that take forward the work already done around the trade in flora and fauna. Issues that will be discussed include captive lion breeding, and rhino and elephant poaching (having reached an all-time high) and synergies with the impending IUCN World Conservation Congress that will be held in Hawaii in September.

It will consider the recommendations from the 66th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee held in Geneva earlier this year (CITES CoP 17 JHB). There will daily be informative and refreshing workshops. And delegates will get an opportunity to experience South Africa’s beautiful biodiversity.
Here’s a link to the Provisional agenda and working documents:

Learn more about CITES: www.cites.org

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). 2016. Resource: CITES Pocket Guide: CoP17. Accessed on 09/09/2016. Available at: http://www.ifaw.org/united-states/resource-centre/cites-pocket-guide-cop17

Source: Dreamstime
There is an unprecedented global demand for land, energy, food, water, and minerals and scarcities frequently occur. The migration of people has led to an accelerated exploitation of renewable and non-renewable natural resources. Resources are frequently used interrelatedly and a resource nexus exist. The resource nexus comprises the linkages between natural resources and raw materials that arise from economic, social, and natural processes. Physical, economic, and social interconnections between resources are growing and influence resource availability. The richness in natural resources has attracted people to urban areas but they are susceptible to over-exploitation or inappropriate use and are of global importance (Andrews-Speed et al 2012; Bathelt 2005; World Economic Forum 2014; National Geographic (sa); and Hayter and Patchell 2015).

Source: Pixempire
Our life is based on natural resources. Natural materials become resources when humans value them. People settle where they can make a living and where resources are available. Resources are extremely varied. A resource is a product of biological, ecological or geological processes that satisfies human wants and obtained from the environment to meet our needs and wants (food, water, and shelter). Natural resources in the form of materials, water and energy, as well as the land available to us on Earth, are the basis of all living beings on our planet. Natural resources (food, water, energy, and minerals) are stocks of materials that exist in the natural environment that are both scarce and economically useful in production or consumption, either in their raw state or after a minimal amount of processing. It originates in the interconnections between different resources (e.g. from the requirement of one resource as an input to produce another). It is biophysical materials that satisfy human wants and provide direct inputs to human well being. Resources can’t be consumed in their original form so resource development help to process into more usable commodities.  All goods either embody natural resources or require resources for their production (e.g. food crops require land and water to grow). The utility of resources and their contribution to human welfare may be experienced directly – for example, as material inputs such as food and shelter that enable subsistence – or indirectly via its role in exchange (Gregory et al 2009; Miller 2007; World Trade Report 2010; WEF 2014; Andrews-Speed et al 2012; Muilerman and Blonk 2001; SERI 2009; Hayter and Patchell 2015).
Source: Glacier Energy

There are three types, namely perpetual (the use of which does not lead to a reduction in their size, e.g. solar energy), renewable resources (e.g. fresh water, agricultural products (e.g. crops) and fish, and wood that can be harvested – but not faster than their rate of replenishment, and non-renewable (created by very slow geological processes, so slow in human terms that their use diminishes the available stocks, e.g. fossil fuels for energy and minerals) (Miller 2007; Muilerman and Blonk 2001). 

Natural resources depletion has taken at an unprecedented, rapid, and environmentally unsustainable pace. On a finite planet, the supply of food, water, energy, land, and materials is limited. Nature provides humans with all resources necessary for life. Without the constant use of natural resources, neither our economy nor our society could function. With a growing global population, economy, and affluence, our consumption of nature grows. Developing countries are more dependent on natural resources as their primary income source and for their livelihoods. Global extraction and consumption of natural resources will continue to increase dramatically, unless measures are implemented to reduce the overall amounts of resource use (UNEP 2014; SERI 2009; Moseley et al 2014; Andrews-Speed et al 2012; Muilerman and Blonk 2001; UNEP 2010).


With a dramatically increase in population, the demand for resources is taking place. The biosphere has a finite supply of material resources, but demand for them grows exponentially, leading to unprecedented shortages. Over the next 20 years, the world will see accelerating demand for natural resource commodities. To meet the growing demands for fresh water, food, timber, fuel, and fiber, humans have extensively changed ecosystems. The natural resource base our societies are built on is in danger of over-exploitation and collapse. Even if we manage to keep resources in use or in an accessible form, the amount of resources available is limited compared to the potential demand of a growing and increasingly affluent society. Against the backdrop of global environmental change, globalization, and urbanization, the resource nexus has implications both for lifestyles and livelihoods humanity’s demands exceed the planet’s capacity to efficiently provide for us (WEF 2014; SERI 2009; Andrews-Speed et al 2012; UNEP 2010; Balteanu and Dogaru 2011; and Harvey 2014).

Finite resources are being depleted and renewable resources are being extracted beyond their maximum sustainable yield.  Natural resource availability is the function of the supply and demand of resources that are discovered, processed, distributed, and consumed in intricate global value chains. Defining natural resource availability often fails to consider how they are distributed, both between countries and between individuals within countries. The challenges of sufficient and equitable access to natural resources will increase as the world population is projected to reach 8 billion by 2030, and over 9 billion by 2050. Physical, economic, and social interconnections between resources are growing, and will increasingly influence resource availability, in both positive and negative way (Andrews-Speed et al 2012; UNEP 2014; UNEP 2010; Moseley et al 2014; SERI 2009; WEF 2014; Balteanu and Dogaru 2011; Harvey 2014).

Concern over the potential for resource scarcity has grown considerably. Most resources are asymmetrically distributed around the globe. There is a great concern about whether the world’s limited natural resource base is capable of sustaining economic growth and a growing population. Notably, an increasing demand for natural resource commodities will challenge human ingenuity to continue to overcome impending resource scarcities. Actions affecting one resource often have consequences for other resources, in the same locale or on the other side of the world (WEF 2014; Andrews-Speed et al 2012; SERI 2009).

Impacts of human activities on nature have increased, changing ecosystem functions. Human activities and environmental change are strongly connected. Human-environment relationships is the interactions and feedbacks between the human and the natural components and to the linkages between the social and the geophysical systems. It deals with linkages between the social and physical systems, focusing on the human pressures on the biogeochemical processes and the environmental effects on society. It focuses on the escalating intensity of the interactions between human and nature. The interdependencies of natural and human systems are complex and can be measured by looking at spatial patterns of resource availability and demand, the changes that occur and how these patterns are affected by distribution, growth, and the movement of populations (Balteanu and Dogaru 2011).

The global economy depends on resource inputs extracted from the environment. Global economic and social development has been achieved through intensive, inefficient and unsustainable use of the earth’s finite resources. The extraction and use of natural resources are responsible for environmental problems. Many resource intensive patterns cause severe direct local environmental degradation on global ecosystems and the ecological services, including the devastation of old growth forests, the depletion and pollution of water resources, the destruction of fisheries, any species are under threat of extinction; and the despoliation of land in order to extract mineral resources. The major effects of the human impact on nature appeared first locally and then, as they multiplied and amplified, regionally and globally (Muilerman and Blonk 2001; Andrews-Speed et al 2012; SERI 2009; Harvey 2014; Sherbinin and Curran 2004; and Balteanu and Dogaru 2011; UNEP 2014). 

The human impact on the global environment and the earth system is large enough to denote a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. Humanity is now a geophysical force, as influential on the earth as other major ecosystem functions. Humans cannot persist on business-as-usual paths through the 21st century because the stress on the global ecosystem and its many life-sustaining functions is too great. (Andrews-Speed et al 2012; and UNEP 2010). Thus, a sustainable livelihood is proposed.

A livelihood is sustainable which can cope with stress and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets, and provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for the next generation; and which contributes net benefits to other livelihoods at the local and global levels and in the short and long term. It is founded on the ability of households to mobilize the assets that they have. It comprises the capabilities, assets (material and social resources) and activities required for a means of living. Achieving sustainable patterns of resource use is about achieving sustainable development. Sustainably utilizing resources is when resources are used to meet present generations needs without comprising the ability of future generations to meet their own resource needs. The establishment of Sustainable Development Goals must integrate resource management concerns and promote the decoupling of economic growth rates from escalating resource use and environmental degradation. Goodland and Ledec (1987) (as cited in Bathelt 2005) defines sustainable development as “a pattern of social and structural economic transformations (e.g. development) which optimizes the economic and societal benefits available in the present, without jeopardizing the potential for similar benefits in the future” (Andrews-Speed et al 2012).

Urbanisation, coupled with an increase in growth and development, place stress on resources. Resources are frequently scarce. There is a greater demand than supply, inevitably exceeding its carrying capacity. Shifting to an integrated perception of future resource availability is a critical part of tackling the social and economic shifts required to reach three goals: sufficient supplies of natural resources, flourishing natural ecosystems and sustainable prosperity for global populations. To achieve a reduction in resource use, it is vital that a change in our economies deal with natural resources and the services they provide takes place. The challenge is to ensure a high quality of life without exceeding the environmental capacities of our planet. A strategy of reducing resource use will diminish the pressures on the global environment. Humans need to balance short-term rates of use against long-term availability to ensure a sustainable future (WEF 2014; SERI 2009; UNESCO 2011).

Andrews-Speed, P., Bleischwitz, R., Boersma, T., Johnson, C., Kemp, G., & VanDeveer, S.D.  2012. The Global Resource Nexus: Struggles for Land, Energy, Food, Water, and Minerals [online]. Washington DC: Transatlantic Academy.

Balteanu, D. & Dogaru, D. 2011. Geographical Perspectives on Human-Environment Relationships and Anthropic Pressure Indicators. Rom. Journ. Geogr., 55, (2), p. 69–80 [online].

Bathelt, H. 2005. Resources in economic geography: from substantive concepts towards a relational perspective. Environment and Planning Volume 37, pages 1545 – 1563 [online]. 

Gregory, D., Johnston, R., Pratt, G., Watts, M., Whatmore, S. 2009. The Dictionary of Human Geography 5th Edition. West Sussex: Blackwell Publishing.

Harvey, R. 2014. From Natural Resource Dependence to Diversified Economies: An Agenda for Future Research. Policy Insights (5). SAIIA. Governance of Africa’s Resources Programme.

Hayter, R., & Patchell, J. 2015. Resource Geography 2nd edition. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, Volume 20 p. 568 – 575 [online].

Krantz, L. 2001. The Sustainable Livelihood Approach to Poverty Reduction: An Introduction. [online]. Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Moseley, W.G., Perramond, E., Hapke, H.M., & Paul, L. 2014. An Introduction To Human-Environment Geography: Local Dynamics and Global Processes. West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell Publishing.

Miller, G.T. 2007. Living in the environment: principles, connections, and solutions 15th Edition. Belmont: Cengage Learning.

Muilerman, H., & Blonk, H. 2001. Towards a sustainable use of natural resources. [online].

National Geographic. [sa]. ‘Resource’.

Rigg, J. 2007. An everyday geography of the Global South. Abingdon: Routledge.
Sustainable Europe Research Institute. 2009. Overconsumption? Our use of the world’s natural resources [online].

Sherbinin, A. & Curran, S.R. 2004. Completing the Picture: The Challenges of Bringing “Consumption” into the Population-Environment Equation. Essay Prepared for Consideration by the Population-Environment Research Network Cyberseminar 17-31 May 2004.

UNEP. 2010. Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production: Priority Products and Materials. [online]. International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management.

UNEP. 2014. Managing and Conserving the Natural Resource Base for Sustained Economic and Social Development [online]. International Resource Panel.

UNESCO. 2011. The impact of global change on water resources: The response of UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme. [online].

World Economic Forum (WEF). 2014. The Future Availability of Natural Resources: A New Paradigm for Global Resource Availability.

World Trade Report. 2010. Trade in Natural Resources. World Trade Organisation. 


Wetlands are the most biologically diverse and rich ecosystems on Earth. Because of wetlands’ variation in size and location, it is often difficult to define the concept. Nonetheless, wetlands are transition zones between land and aquatic systems where the water table is usually near or at the surface, or the land is covered by shallow water. According to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands; “Wetlands are areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres." Wetlands occur where the landform (topography) or geology slows down or obstructs the movement of water through a catchment causing the surface soil layers in the wetland area to be temporarily, seasonally, or permanently waterlogged.
Source: Geo41

A wetland is a distinctive ecosystem. The wetland biome consists of any body of water (either fresh or salt) that stands still and lies low. Wetlands are normally located near a river, lake, or stream. It is a land area saturated with water, which can be both permanent and seasonal. Examples of wetlands are marshes and ponds, the edge of a lake or ocean, the delta at the mouth of a river, and low-lying areas that frequently flood.

Differences in wetlands exist because of regional and local variances in soils, topography, climate, hydrology, water chemistry, vegetation, and other factors, including human disturbance. Wetlands support aquatic and terrestrial species. Water saturation (hydrology) ultimately determines how the soil develops and the types of plant and animal communities that occur here.

Source: Nature.org

The growth of specially adapted plants and the promotion of the development of characteristic wetland (hydric) soils are possible because of the prolonged presence of water that creates favourable conditions.

In a wetland the water level varies throughout the year. The growth of specially adapted plants and the promotion of the development of characteristic wetland (hydric) soils are possible because of the prolonged presence of water that creates favourable conditions.

Wetlands are distributed all over the world and occur in every climatic zone, from the polar regions to the tropics. They are found in areas wherever climate and landscape cause groundwater to discharge to the land surface or prevent rapid drainage from the land surface so that soils are saturated for some time.

A wetland is a vitally important environment asset. A high number of plant and animal species are abundantly found in wetlands.



Cities have an abundance of potential where an economy can prosper. It is of utmost importance that cities must develop sustainably and also a balance must be sought between the city’s social, economic, and, important, environmental needs. However, this doesn’t always occur and urban settlements aren’t always effectively managed. 
There were 7.2 Billion people worldwide in 2014; 6 billion were in less developed countries and 1.2 billion were in more developed countries. Today, half of the world’s population of 3.5 billion people is living in cities. According to United Nations, nearly 60 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030. By 2030, it is projected that 6 out of 10 people will reside in urban areas and the number will increase to 7 out of 10 people by 2050 (Khar Ee &Suet Leng 2014; Population Reference Bureau 2014).

Liveability is essentially about living a good, healthy, and sustainable life and about enjoyment, satisfaction, and fulfilment with one’s life. A liveable place is safe, clean, beautiful, economically vital, and affordable to a diverse population and efficiently administered, with functional infrastructure, ample parks, effective public transportation, and broad opportunities for employment. It also connotes a sense of community. Liveability refers to those spatial, social, and environmental characteristics and qualities that uniquely contribute to people's sense of personal and collective wellbeing and to their sense of satisfaction in being the residents of that particular settlement (UN Habitat 1996; Balsas 2004).

Measuring liveability of a city enables planners to see where the city’s weaknesses and strengths are. There are five dimensions of liveability, including vitality, sense, fit, access, and control. Balsas (2004) further notes and add a six element of “viability. These elements provide a context for discussion of the spatial, physical, social, and political organisation of various types of urban development”. Other aspects of liveability can also be subjective based on the fact how an individual perceive their satisfaction and happiness.

Zarin & Tarantash (2011) note that neighbourhood liveability includes density, walkability, transportation availability, land use and distribution, housing choice and affordability, leisure use spaces & opportunities, and special amenities and place qualities.

How an all-inclusive, resilient, liveable, and authentic city should look like. Source: The Philips Center for Health and Wellbeing [sa].

In order to counteract the various liveability problems that a city so often experience, it is important that there exist policies, guidelines and benchmarks in order to ensure that cities are sustainable and healthy. Several documents are valuable in the liveability realm, including:
1)  The Habitat Agenda (referring to Chapter IV: B. Adequate shelter for all and C. Sustainable  human settlements development in an urbanizing world).
2)    Agenda 21 (under the section Promoting Sustainable Human Settlement Development)
3)    Economist Intelligence Unit's Liveability ranking
4)    Mercer's Quality of Living Reports
5)    Monocle's Most Liveable Cities Index

The Habitat Agenda (referring to Chapter IV: B. Adequate shelter for all and C. Sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world) of the UN was selected. This enables local governments to adopt similar approaches and adapt it to their own needs and development problems. It deals with (UN Habitat Agenda 1996) adequate shelter for all; sustainable land use; Population and sustainable human settlements development; social development; environmentally sustainable, healthy and liveable human settlements; and sustainable transport and communication systems. This is an extremely useful and valuable document in order to achieve sustainable human settlements and in particular liveable cities. Local governments can use it as a universal benchmark and apply and modify it to suit its individual issues, especially in a developing cities which faces other, more pressing socio-economic problems. Under section 135 of the Habitat Agenda (UN Habitat 1996), it gives guidelines about liveability as it influences the quality of life.

Achieving sustainable human settlements. Because liveability includes the good, effective shelter, transports services, and other basic services, the Agenda 21 (under the section Promoting Sustainable Human Settlement Development) can also provide very good policies and benchmark for liveability purposes. It is an important blueprint that must be used nationally and locally by governments and organisations. Related objectives include: providing adequate shelter for all; promoting sustainable land-use planning and management; promoting the integrated provision of environmental infrastructure: water, sanitation, drainage, and solid-waste management; promoting sustainable energy and transport systems in human settlements; and promoting sustainable construction industry activities.

Two extensively known measures of liveability are the Economist Intelligence Unit's Liveability ranking and Mercer's Quality of Living Reports. They have, on a global scale, provide a valuable measurement of certain criteria of how good a city is and how liveable it really is. They calculate liveability of cities from around the world, using both subjective life-satisfaction as well as objective quality of life measurements. The EIU Liveability ranking assesses stability; healthcare; culture and environment; education; and infrastructure which are essential in good liveability (EIU Liveability ranking 2015).

Monocle's Most Liveable Cities Index include Safety/Crime, Climate/Sunshine, Connectivity, Public Transportation, Quality of Architecture, Environmental Issues, and Access to Nature, and Urban Design. When these aspects are achieve it will lead to good liveability in a city.

Various geographical tools are readily available to deal with liveability issues.

Geodesign assist in providing a framework to organise methods in order to construct liveability indicators thoroughly and accurately. Geodesign combines geography with design by providing designers with robust tools that support rapid evaluation of design alternatives against the impacts of those designs. Globalization, population growth, climate change, and increasing demands for resources are serious problems. Geodesign is the solution. Geodesign can assist developers and planners to make a more liveable city and especially in local areas where geographical contexts differ considerably (Esri 2010).

Geospatial Technology (computer-based mapping techniques) look at spatial data to acquire, analyse, process, and report information by looking at the spatial organisation of people, places, and environments on the earth’s surface to assist in the decision-making process and solve energy supply and demand problems in human settlements. Spatial information on energy sources and usages in settlements are of importance as the population continuously grows. Different tools can assist in dealing with the aforementioned challenges (Esri 2010).

GIS spatially views and analyses information to depict patterns, see correlations, and come to conclusions and look at changes of spatial patterns over time. By understanding geography and people's relationship to location, we can make informed decisions about the way we live on our planet. GIS can deliver insights from data by identifying, displaying, analysing, and deciphering real-world problems. A geographic information system (GIS) is a technological tool for comprehending geography and making intelligent decisions (Esri 2010).

GIS, being a good spatial problem-solving tool, integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analysing geographically referenced information (Elliot 2014). GIS’ ability to manage, integrate, analyse, and visualize very large and complex data is making it an essential platform for creating the sustainable cities of the future Patterns of distributed data mashups (both tabular and map) are increasingly being implemented in cities (Dangermond 2014).

Remote sensing (obtaining information from a distant to observe spectral, spatial, and temporal resolution) as a technology is valuable because electricity demand continuous greatly in South Africa and is especially a problem in rural, more inaccessible areas and can be used as a point layer to spatially plot different class features that will require electrification in the future e.g. a dense informal area.

GIS functionalities, including spatial and database management and analysis, and cartography can help as a solution for geographic problem-solving in particular when it is complex. For example, it can configure a transportation network. Because residents in cities are so vulnerable and at risk of hazards, GIS can help to analyse potential risks and integrate it into the planning phase.

In terms of population and walkability, GIS maps can measure the number of residents within a convenient walk of a specific facility. GIS helps to assist in understanding the geographical world. It can demonstrate how differently an issue affects different populations or geographical areas e.g. in an informal and formal settlement (Esri 2008; Esri 2010). GIS can also show the accessibility of a certain area. It is possible to measure the distance to the city centre and where open spaces are located and compare it to the total urban area. Population density measures the compactness of an urban area and is done by comparing the population with the urban area. Remote sensing and GIS can be combined to look at where urban poverty occurs. So too can QOL be analysed in a city through GIS. GIS data can also so built environment according to their tabular attributes as well as help with research on walking and other physical activities in a city.

Various categories exists where improvements can be made and will be thoroughly considered in order for a city, on the long haul, to be a sustainable, liveable, and resilient city. This also means that the overall wellbeing of the residents will be significantly improved. A balance between economic, environmental, and social necessities must be reached.

It is thus vitally important that human settlement strategies should mainly focus on establishing viable integrated communities, which are both social and economic sound, and conveniently located close to economic opportunities and important amenities as well as have affordable transport to do so. Human settlements must be economically resilient and environmentally sound in order to become sustainable. In order for a city to become an all-inclusive, healthy, and sustainable city, it will be important to improve resident’s quality of life by looking at the following aspects:

Land use

The zoning must be changed so that it can become mixed-use. Affordable, accessible land can help to prevent poverty and assist migrants. When designing new settlements, it is important that it is closely located to transport corridors, thereby ensuring that people live a dignified and healthy life. 

Safety and vulnerability

Vulnerable groups must be given maximum attention and to break down the barriers to shelter, education, work and other basic services. To limit criminal activity, social and recreational activities must be in place. All people must be able to live and thrive in a comfortable and safe and healthy environment. Criminal activities can be curbed by providing plenty of employment opportunities, transport, education, and housing. 

Housing development must take place and integrate public transport services and an integration of basic services should take place, by way of locating economic and social facilities and amenities (leading to socio-economic interaction) close to a residential area so that it will make the built environment in close proximity to where people work and relax. This will ensure all community members will have equal access to such amenities and facilities. Housing must be supplied to all people in a community at an accelerate pace in order to provide for the huge backlog by making more space available, properly upgrading existing structures, and must be affordable, of good quality and be supplied with thorough basic services. Housing must also be equitable and energy-efficient and available to all ages, and races. It must also be fiscally sustainable. It is important that all people’s needs are fully met. These houses must be integrated with existing infrastructure of a settlement and well-located (close to important amenities) and well-managed. 

Connectivity/Transportation uses
It is important to promote connectivity across the whole region and curb transportation gaps. Congestion must be limited and that fuel efficiency take place. It must be affordable, reliant, fast, frequent, and efficient. It must use as little resources as possible while simultaneously limiting air, water, noise emissions, and waste. Transport options must also become more economically and must be of a high quality. Roads must be widen or the number of cars must be reduced. 


Social amenities and important facilities must be accessible within a few minutes’ walk. Mobility helps to minimise the distance covered and make less accessible places more easily accessible. Accessibility is so important in order to effortlessly reach goods and services. Walkability and the improvement thereof relates to land use, street design, and affordability. Streets and paths must be connected to all facilities and activities. More jobs must available close to the very dense residential areas. 

Public Participation

Public participation must be at the forefront of planning and the decision-making process and promote community involvement for this process to become more inclusive. Interested and affected parties must be fully part of the spatial planning as this will lead to social Integration. 

Built environment

Streets, buildings, and spaces must be integrated, green and inclusive of all people. Buildings must be disaster-resistant, durable, and sturdy. Renewable building materials must be mostly used.

Green spaces

It is important to encourage more green space as well as green infrastructure. Alternative technologies (e.g. Solar Water Heaters, grey water recycling and solar and energy efficient lighting to informal settlements) must be explored in order to increases sustainable resource use. Energy poverty must be addressed adequately.


Cities are urban sprawls which face a lot of challenges in terms of integrating sustainability and liveability. Several developing cities face serious liveability issues. But, it is possible to make it a more sustainable, liveable, and equitable city through improvements in the transport, walkability, housing, and vulnerability and safety sections. This will enable people not only to live a happy life but also a prosperous one. Liveability is of utmost importance in a city, when the liveability is good, the quality of life is good. Liveability is essentially about living a good, healthy, and sustainable life. When the liveability is poor, it impedes people’s quality of life and their ability to lead a prosperous and happy life. Several geographical tools are useful as a solution for these problems as well as international and national documents are available as benchmarks to fully equip a city in order to live sustainably. 

Balsas, C.R.L. 2004. Measuring the livability of an urban centre: an exploratory study of key performance indicators. Planning Practice & Research, 19:1, 101-110.

ESRI. 2010. Best practices: GIS for Renewable Energy.

ESRI. 2008. GIS Best Practices: Essays on Geography and GIS.

EIU. A Summary of the Liveability Ranking and Overview August 2015.

Khar Ee, C.O. & Suet Leng, K. Issues and challenges of a liveable and creative city: The case of Penang, Malaysia. 2014. Geografia Online: Malaysian Journal of Society and Space 10 issue 3 (33-43) 33.

Population Reference Bureau. 2014. World Population Data Sheet.

The Habitat Agenda Goals and Principles, Commitments and the Global Plan of Action.

The Philips Center for Health and Wellbeing. [Sa]. A livable and lovable city? Insight Series on Livable Cities Nr. 1.

UNEP. 2007. Liveable Cities The Benefits Of Urban Environmental Planning A Cities Alliance Study on Good Practices and Useful Tools.

United Nations. 1996. The Habitat Agenda: Chapter IV: C. Sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world. 

The current emphasise on raising important awareness on climate change has helped people to realise that they play an exponential role in reducing their own waste via recycling. Unfortunately due to a variety of reasons, recycling doesn’t always takes place, both locally and globally. The four main categories of these barriers can be ascribe to household/individual behaviour; services/local situation; attitudes/motivation; information and knowledge.

 1)  Household/individual behaviour

Many times household waste material hasn’t become regularised into people’s daily household routines – therefore it hasn’t been carried out automatically. Many factors, including time, personal cost, space, labour, practicality, and inconvenience, all impose demands on households when participating in recycling activities. Many times people also forget to sort at the source. Practicality specifically refers to houses not being big enough to keep several waste storage containers and therefore, storage problems ensue. Furthermore, another barrier to waste separation is that of social dilemma: short-term rationality impels people to act for their own benefit.

2)   Services / local situation
    This category varies by locality. Although people frequently want to protect the environment and desire to participate in recycling, that concern is often hampered by the lack of access to recycling centres.

3)   Attitudes /motivation
    It is axiomatic that motivation and attitudes can predict behaviour. Half-truths from the media or neighbours about what happens to the waste can negatively impact such behaviour.

4)   Information and knowledge
    Sometimes people are unsure what exactly they are expected to do and what exactly which materials are to go in which receptacle. Recycling schemes have to be easier, more convenient, less time consuming, less effort but at the same time more enjoyable and rewarding.


Barr, S. 2007. Factors Influencing Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors: A U.K. Case Study of Household Waste Management. Environment and Behavior Volume 39 Number 4.

Waste minimisation behaviours are multi-dimensional, complex, and varied. In order to fully minimise waste in landfills, it is important to understand what factors influence individual behaviour patterns. Predictors of recycling behaviour comprise several variables. Much recent attention has focused on individual recycling schemes, their participation rates, and the characteristics and attitudes of recyclers. Public awareness and attitudes to waste can affect the population's willingness to cooperate and participate in waste management practices. Respondents are frequently divided into recyclers or non-recyclers. Information can make people aware of the consequences of their behaviour and influence their awareness, opinions, attitudes, and knowledge. Pro-recycling attitudes and previous recycling experience are a key contributor to recycling behaviour which is influenced by having the appropriate opportunities, facilities and knowledge to recycle. Expressing the environmental benefits of recycling activities can motivate a person to participate in such activities. Raising awareness motivates individuals to act.

Behavioural Variables
Environmental values, situational characteristics, and psychological factors play a significant role in the prediction of waste management behaviour. It can be attributed to several groups of independent variables: environmental values, cognitive variables (e.g., knowledge, behavioural skills), situational variables, and personality variables (e.g., attitudes, locus of control/self-efficacy) and psychological factors which influence environmental behaviour. 

Environmental values
Environmental values, classified as underlying orientations held by individuals toward the physical environment are important in looking at people’s individual perceptions of recycling and what influence their waste management behaviour. It is used interchangeably with environmental concerns, ecological worldviews, and environmental attitudes. Moreover, the relationship between social and environmental values can be interpreted as a socio-environmental basis for examining values toward environment. Environmental concern (or related concepts such as environmental values or ecological worldview) relate to an individual’s orientation towards, or concern for, the preservation, restoration, or improvement of the environment. People who believe recycling substantially reduces the use of landfills and conserves natural resources are more likely to recycle. Furthermore, Individuals who are more open to change, more altruistic, and feel closer to nature are more likely to be pro-environmental. Relational aspects of environmental values concern the implicit understanding of individuals to the relationship between nature and culture, or environment and human. It also to behavioural domains relating to the way in which humans treat the environment. 

Situational Variables
Situational Variables influence waste management behaviour and are defined by given personal situation with regard to behavioural context (for example, service provision), individual characteristics (such as socio-demographics) and individual knowledge and experience of the behaviour. Behavioural context has been examined by a relatively small number of authors and has focused around the extent to which access to a structured kerbside recycling collection enhances recycling behaviour and degree to which static recycling provision influences action. Situational factors are embrace enabling and disabling influences and classed as contextual, sociodemographic, knowledge based, and experience based. Those with better access to static recycling also tend to recycle more. 

Environmental and behavioural knowledge is important in shaping waste management and general pro-environmental behaviour. Environmental knowledge is the abstract knowledge for action, being a representation of general knowledge about the state of the environment and an awareness of environmental problems, such as waste issues. Knowledge regarding both environmental problems and an awareness of how to perform environmental behaviours is of importance. One can distinguish between ‘abstract’ and concrete (providing more scope to predict recycling and other environmental behaviours. Moreover, personal experience of the behaviour is a significant prediction of waste management behaviour; a strong link has been found between behavioural experience in one domain and action in another, whereby participation in one behaviour leads to more willing uptake of other actions.

Psychological Factors
Psychological factors (factors are unique perceptual traits of the individual and are personal perceptions of the individual in question that affect their overall behaviour) are all linked by the fact that they are personality characteristics of the individuals and the perceptions of those individuals toward the actions that they are undertaking and include altruistic influences on recycling behaviour. Psychological factors relate to personality and perceptional traits of individuals that determine their overall attitudes regarding an environmental behaviour. These variables are based on a recycling behaviour score; environmental concern score; facility provided attitude score; recycling attitude score; waste recycling confidence score; community identity score; difficulties in sorting household waste.


It relates to the degree to which recycling could be seen as altruistic, or helping, behaviour. 

Intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation to act is an important predictor of environmental and waste management behaviour. Individuals who find recycling enjoyable and derive inner satisfaction from helping the environment are more likely to both initiate and continue with pro-environmental behaviour. 

Threat to wellbeing

A belief that environmental problems can be perceived as so much of a threat to well-being and health that they override many of the traditional predictors of environmental behaviour in their importance. The personalisation of an environmental problem may urge individuals to act as a matter of self-interest so as to avoid harm. 

Extent of behaviour

The extent to which undertaking a given behaviour will also have a tangible impact. Individual actions can have little or no impact toward a given problem. Behaviour is predicted by behavioural intention, as well as the situational and psychological factors. In turn, behavioural intention would be predicted by environmental values, situational and psychological factors. 

Importance of others’ recycling behaviour

The importance of others’ recycling behaviour is also likely to be significant in increasing individual recycling rates and when individuals are aware of a given social norm and accept this norm.

Public awareness and attitudes

Public awareness and attitudes to waste can affect the population's willingness to cooperate and participate in adequate waste management practices. General environmental awareness and information on health risks due to deficient solid waste management are important factors which need to be continuously communicated to all sectors of the population.


Self-efficacy may also be seen as a significant predictor of waste management. There exist a relationship between the degree to which respondents felt competent to and actually did undertake the behaviour and their action as well as their perception that such action will have a tangible positive effect. 

Environmental citizenship
Individuals who conform to certain characteristics are more likely to behave in an appropriate manner because they feel involved within society and most importantly have a notion of citizenship. This include a balance between rights and responsibilities, an active involvement within society, characterized by a feeling of good community spirit and a part in the local decision making processes regarding the environment. 

Recycling behaviour can be facilitated by convenience. Making recycling more convenient and accessible would be expected to enhance attitudes towards behaviour.

Understanding the factors that influence or promote recycling behaviour can lead to more efficient recycling programmes. Thus, four broad categories of explanatory variables relate to recycling behaviour (internal motivators (psychological factors that lead individuals to be self-motivated in continuing a certain act or task), external motivators (are psychological factors that motivate individuals in continuing an act through things they cannot control), internal facilitators (are factors that provide individuals with the knowledge and mental capacity to complete a task properly), and external facilitators (characteristics of the surrounding physical environment that allow for the completion of a task and also barriers that can discourage individuals from doing a task).


People’s perceptions, behaviours and opinions all differ as a result of differing environmental values, situational factors, and psychological factors. One thing remains certain, recycling is a viable solution, in terms of environmental, economic, and social aspects, to minimise the waste that has rapidly occurred over the recent years.

Barr, S. 2007. Factors Influencing Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors: A U.K. Case Study of Household Waste Management. Environment and Behavior Volume 39 Number 4

Barr, S. & Gilg, A.W. 2007. A Conceptual Framework for Understanding and Analyzing Attitudes towards Environmental Behaviour. Geografiska Annaler. Series B, Human Geography, Vol. 89, No. 4 (2007), pp. 361-379.

Riley, M. 2008. From Salvage to Recycling – New Agendas or Same Old Rubbish? Jstor Area, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 79-89.

Swami, V., Chamorro-Premuzic, T., Snelgar, R., Furnham, A. 2011. Personality, individual differences, and demographic antecedents of self-reported household waste management behaviours. Journal of Environmental Psychology 31 (2011) 21e26.

Tonglet, M., Phillips, P.S., & Bates, M.P. 2004. Determining the drivers for householder pro-environmental behaviour: waste minimisation compared to recycling. Resources, Conservation and Recycling 42 (2004) 27–48.

Woodard, R., Harder, M.K., Bench, M. 2006. Participation in curbside recycling schemes and its variation with material types. Waste Management 26, 914–919.

Source: Recycling Guys
Researchers have been writing about recycling since the 1970s and it is a heavily researched topic and therefore a lot is already understood about this topic. Recycling has become an established norm for many communities. Recycling is a viable means of addressing the problems associated with municipal waste disposal. Recycling can not only benefit yourself, but also the environment.
·       Less Pressure on Landfills - Reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators and that must be dispose of;
·       Sustainable use of Resources;
·       It lessens the need to extract the planet’s limited raw material resources and conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals;
·       Prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials; Recycling of industrial products cuts down pollution levels significantly;
·       Saves energy - A large amount of energy is consumed by processing raw materials during manufacturing and recycling ultimately minimises this;
·       Prevents Loss of Biodiversity: Less raw material is needed when you engage yourself in recycling products and it will prevents loss of biodiversity and ecosystems. Soil erosion and water pollution, enabling indigenous plants and animals to survive in forests;
·        Recycling reduces the pressure to expand forestry and mining production - recycled paper made from certain trees is re-used repeatedly to minimize felling/ deforestation;
·       Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change - human activities have contributed to an accelerated warming of the Earth’s surface through the increase of emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and have altered the chemical composition of the atmosphere;
·       Helps sustain the environment for future generations;
·       It is a very helpful environmental education tool – all people (from young children to elders) can participate in recycling initiatives to protect our precious resources;
·       Helps create new well-paying jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries;
·       Motivate the Use of Greener Technologies: By participating in recycling has helped people to use greener technologies e.g. renewable energy sources like solar and wind;
·       Greater economic development; and
·       Well-run recycling programs cost less to operate than waste collection, landfilling, and incineration.

United States Environmental Protection Agency.


Recycling is defined as the redirection of materials from waste stream into the manufacturing, agricultural, horticultural and construction sectors for use in the creation of new products waste materials are used in the creation of other new products. Inherent in this redirection is that one must know what kind of material is fit for what purpose (Senzige et al. 2014). Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials and turning them into new products. These materials would have otherwise end up in the trash. 

Importance of recycling
Recently, geographical research has continuously involve sustainable household waste management strategies, of which recycling is an important component and have focused specifically around people’s behaviour and perceptions to recycling activities. Waste is abundantly found all over the world and spaces for landfills are diminishing and because landfills are the traditional way of getting rid of solid waste, alternative actions are necessary. Due to the rapid urbanisation taking place in cities, burgeoning population, rapidly developing economies, unsustainable human activities, lifestyle changes, and mass consumption (due to a rise in income), it has detrimentally negative impacts on both the environment and people.

Municipal solid waste (MSW) presents environmental, social, and economic problems. More people are migrating to cities in search of a better life, but place a huge strain on resources and lead to poor waste management. Of importance is the way in which this waste is handled, collected and dispose of to ensure that is appropriate and safe solid waste management. Beneficial use of waste depends on efficient collection and separation. Due to solid waste being an increasingly growing problem, especially over the last two decades, greater awareness is required. The decisions of Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM) are not only very capital intensive, but it also challenging from environmental and social points of view. Due to a mass consumer society, waste management has become a global environmental priority.

Scale is central to the geography of contemporary recycling schemes as the notion for searching for a sustainable future is described in idea of ‘Think Global, Act Local’ and is extremely useful in waste management principles to encourage individuals to reflect upon their own lifestyles within the context of global and local environmental problems and to make small everyday changes in their lives to positively contribute to curtailing environmental problems and overuse of natural resources. As such, participating regularly in recycling activities can yield the required results. Separating waste in households are important to close the loop of materials. Despite increases in solid waste that is being recycled, the overall MSW continues to increase and therefore improvement is required. Awareness of environmental degradation has been abundant in the news of late through mostly education. This has led to environmental concern entering the human consciousness to make more sustainable choices. The most important aspect regarding this, is to thoroughly ensure that waste simply doesn’t take place and to best avoid and reduce waste all together. However, there are some barriers to participating in recycling activities such as fear of the perceived dangers of waste, social norms and a carelessness towards the environment.

Sustainable waste management

At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, it was decided that levels of governmental structure around the world would make progress to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills (Barr 2007). For sustainable waste management to take place, require changes in individual consumer habits and attitudes and an understanding of waste minimisation behaviour. To achieve sustainable and effective waste management, development strategies must go beyond purely technical considerations to formulate specific objectives and implement appropriate measures with regard to political, institutional, social, financial, economic and technical aspects of MSWM (Schübeler et al. 1996). By adapting to the prevailing context of the country in which MSWM systems operate would lead to the effectiveness and sustainability thereof. MSWM must promote environmental conditions through controlling pollution and to ensure the sustainability of ecosystems.
Source: Recycling Supply
Schubeler, P., Christen, J., and Wehrle, K. 1996. Conceptual framework for municipal solid waste management in low-income countries. Urban management and infrastructure.

Senzige, J.P, Nkansah-Gyeke, Y., Makinde, D.O., & Njau, K.N. 2014. The potential for solid waste recycling in Urban Area of Tanzania: The case of Dar Es Salaam. International Journal of Environmental Protection and Policy.

Barr, S. 2007. Factors Influencing Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors: A U.K. Case Study of Household Waste Management. Environment and Behavior Volume 39 Number 4.

Listening to the chirping of the birds and the sound and motion of plants in the wind, observing a ray of sunlight shining through the leaves or following the fluttering of a butterfly. Now wouldn’t that be a wonderful reality? Unfortunately for many children, this simple nature acts aren’t realised. Recently, there has been a decline in the number of children that participate in and enjoy what Mother Nature has so freely and generously provided. Over the last couple of years TVs, cell phones and laptops have taken over the world. Children don’t get enough exercise or fresh air anymore. The truth of the matter is that the virtual world has exponentially replaced the real world with unparalleled consequences.

Children are disappearing from the outdoors at a rate that would make them top of any conservationist’s list of endangered species if they were any other member of the animal kingdom - Tim Gill.
Mother Nature
Mother Nature is the perfect teacher that helps children to learn about the natural world in an interactively fun manner, while it simultaneously enhances the learning process and strengthens your children’s connections to nature. It is so vitally important that the natural environment must form an integral part of a child’s life and education. It is so wonderful to be in harmony with Mother Nature and fully immersing oneself in all she has to offer. Mother Nature offers such a diverse number of living things, including, diverse fauna, and flora species as well as abundance of land and water. Natural settings include places such as parks, forests, and gardens and offer an unparalleled natural setting.
Children don’t get outdoors anymore
Nature-entwined activities rarely take place nowadays. The sad truth is that children hardly get any exercise and fresh air as there are limited opportunities to connect with Mother Nature and don’t spend quality time in the outdoors. For example, simply listening to a bird sing is an unreality for many children. Even more worrisome is the fact that a lack of children’s exercise is further exacerbated by participating in unhealthy lifestyles, spending hours in front of technology. The truth is they would rather spend time indoors facing a computer, than to actually be outside and interacting with nature. This has led to a decline of children playing outside and having fun on a natural level, unable to fully take advantage of the benefits from such natural activities.

 Many children today find it easier to stay indoors and watch television. I worry that children do not know what they are missing. Children cannot love what they do not know. They cannot miss what they have not experienced - Mary Pipher.

Many children have developed a biophobia which is essentially the fear of the natural world and environmental issues. These children don’t know what they’re missing out on. Using all five of their senses to get a comprehensive idea of the activities (such as getting their hands dirty, making up games as they go along, and riding their bikes) simply don’t occur. What is even more striking (and disturbing) is the fact that they are not familiar with spending quality ‘green’ time outdoors anymore. The norm is to spend as much time indoors. They follow an indoor, sedentary lifestyles daily and spent way too much time in unnatural, manmade, indoor environments without getting enough exercise outdoors. This has detrimentally negative impacts on their health and developmental process.
Finding a balance between the virtual and real world
It is a widely known fact that technology provides various benefits as it helps to expand children’s knowledge horizons. Technology is a very good educational tool to assist in the learning process to learn more about the natural world and to fully enhance the experience knowledge. But this must be balanced out with real-life nature experiences. One has to have a balanced life, on the one hand, playing a sufficient amount outdoors, with being plugged in. Therefore, a nature-rich curriculum is of utmost importance whereby outdoor education programmes are integrated into the curriculum. If this isn’t possible, children should still get an opportunity to have access to green spaces and explore natural settings without any restraint, ensuring that children are in their (natural) element. Being in the outdoors is an extremely healthy alternative to spending time indoors, in front of the TV or PC.

 It is quite possible for today’s child to grow up without ever having taken a solitary walk beside a stream, or spent the hours we used to foraging for pine cones, leaves, feathers and rocks – treasures more precious than store-bought ones. Today it is difficult to tear children away from the virtual world of the mall to introduce them to the real one - Gary Paul Nabhan and Stephen Trimble.

Adults play a vital role in encouragement
It is vital that teachers, adults, and parents, being children’s mentors and leaders, open up the ‘green’ door to a whole new possibilities. They are in the perfect position to motivate children to get outside, interacting with natural settings and discourage them from spending too much time in front of screens. It is so vitally important that environmental education start at an early age. As a viable solution, parents must participate in natural activities, such as walking or riding a bike, which will help encourage children to do the same. It is widely accepted that children learn intently from their parents and their actions. When they follow a green, healthy, active lifestyle, children will soon follow suit as it is clear that their parents also find it enjoyable, educational, and beneficial and will follow in their parents’ green footsteps. 
Source: The Star
It isn’t always necessary to go to the park or ocean; going green starts at home. Parents must fully inspire children to participate in green activities at home, too. These can include recycling activities as well as maintaining a worm farm and will cultivate a great sense of respect to nature, thereby learning valuable eco-lessons and to be environmentally friendly citizens. It isn’t about merely reading about a natural aspect, it involves active, hands-on participation, like planting a seed and seeing how it daily grows with a bit of water and love which is simple yet effective. This will ensure that they are enthusiastic about caring for the environment and that natural aspects are daily incorporated in children’s activities. It is important to add an adventure and motivation element as this with help children to make full use of such opportunities. Children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables. Therefore it is essential for children to be exposed to their own vegetable garden from a young age, giving children that satisfaction and achievement pride that they have helped to grow the vegetables and will bear the fruits (excuse the pun) thereof. Children therefore learns to be self-sufficient and live organically, eating only locally produced produce. Parents must keep an eye on the children in the green areas, but without intervening in their activities and games. This will ensure unrestricted playing, whereby children follow their own interests and ideas. They are therefore encouraged to play independently and do what they want to do and how they want to do it, but with adult supervision.

    Beneficial to be in nature
It is axiomatic that a child-nature encounter will have a myriad of benefits and naturalised outdoor play environments have many positive effects for children. Mother Nature has all kinds of benefits and forms part of an integral learning experience for children. She offers a continuous learning process, while having fun at the same time. Nature is able to assist children, physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. It is good (and, really, obligatory) to participate in different educational and recreational activities that Mother Nature provides as it aid in their overall wellbeing. Nature is definitely a healing place. Children are able to learn by way of constructing their own knowledge about the world around them, and not merely only by memorising facts. There is an enormous difference if a child merely sees a picture of a natural landscape and truly using their senses to closely experience it in a natural setting. This enables children to interact with nature on a more intimately and personal level, resonating that much deeper with them.

There are some perfectly good opportunities on offer in Mother Nature, especially to participate after school and especially weekends. Several reasons why kids need to go outside, what they will gain from green outdoor spaces, and reasons to save kids from an imminent nature-deficit disorder, include:

Health Benefits
Daily exposure to natural settings include several health benefits, such as:
·         Vital to their overall health and functioning
·         Improved quality of life as they are healthier and happier
·         Increase physical activity
·         Fewer physical ailments
·         Faster recovery from illness
·         Improves eyesight
·         It boosts immunity
·         Improves nutrition and when they grow their own food they are more likely to eat fruits and
·         Reduce childhood obesity
·         More advanced motor fitness, including coordination, balance and agility
·         Helps to sleep better

Mental Benefits
·         Better psychological well-being and functioning
·         Creates mental and emotional wellness
·         Reduces Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) symptoms as children concentrate more after
           connecting with nature.
·         Reduces absenteeism
·         Helps them deal with adversity
·         Alleviate stress – spending time at an ocean washes away (pun intended) their daily cares and
          is therapeutic, too.
Source: Vivid Life
Developmental Process
Spending time outdoors stimulates all aspects of children development as all five senses are used, including: 
·         It adds to the sensory experience
·         Expand natural and knowledge horizons
·         Development of independence and autonomy
·         Hone cognitive abilities, skills and functioning
·         Acquisition of knowledge, intellectual development, think resourcefully, higher concentration
          and self-discipline, creative problem solving, improved thinking and recall of information,
          developing important skills (e.g., initiative, literacy, math, science skills), thereby improving
          their academic performance.
·        Improve their awareness, reasoning, discovery, and visual-spatial skills (especially
          observational skills) as they are tremendously inquisitive, interested, and curious about the
          natural world and seek to learn more about the environment around them.
·        Children are able to handle challenges and problems better, to launch investigations, to think
          creatively and imaginatively and to find inspiration in small natural elements in Mother Nature.
·         Improved life skills
·         The ability to grow and learn to their fullest potential.

Social benefits
Source: Outdoor Nation

Enhance social behaviour and relations by improving and stimulating social interactions with other children and it build   their confidence, enhancing collaborative skills, and children        more positive feelings towards each other.


A fun and enjoying learning experience
Nature can be used as an inquiry learning source full of endless possibilities, activities, and ideas. Nature-based experiential education have various benefits, including:
Eco Walk the Talk
·      It fosters creative play, excitement, and innovative ideas for the
       children and opens up a whole new natural world where their
       imagination can run wild as it explore socials, material and
       imaginary worlds.
·      Playing in the outdoor classroom makes learning fun as they  
        are able to learn through landscapes, participate in free and fun
        exercise, and has a playful engagement with nature. They
       can get down and dirty and it provides an opportunity to let off
·     It offers an opportunity to enjoy, acquire, research, and explore
      green spaces and there are
      diverse natural spaces, something for every age. Being outside helps them remember that they are
      still kids.
·     When they spend some quality time in a natural environment, they develop their own sense of
       place and a sense of wonder. It leads to positive contact with nature and nature offers a sense of 
       wonder and being at one with the natural world. This sense of wonder enables life-long learning
       to occur.
·     It enables them to express their own ideas
·     It is a continuous hands-on, active experience, whereby they investigate and learn through
       activities that build on a child’s sense of wonder and curiosity.
Source: Nature Moms
·     It embraces a sense of adventure
·     It enables unstructured creative exploration, unconstrained
      physical movement, and self-led natural play activities, which,
      in turn, make children independent as they learn on their own
      terms in green settings and make use of diverse materials and
·     Keep children captivated and interested as their eyes are always
·     A direct, real-life, positive experience with the natural world is
      an enriching engagement in the natural environment and fully
      participate in the natural games as they have direct contact with 
      green spaces.
Protecting our valuable Mother Nature
Mother Nature offers diverse fauna, and flora species as well as abundance of land and water. Children are the future generations to protect it and it is vital that they have an innate connection with Mother Nature from a very young age in order to protect it from future destruction. It doesn’t do children good when they are exposed to some of the most prominently terrifying environmental issues early on, and they don’t have enough time to develop a personal connection with Mother Nature. Before we can ask children to save the environment, it is important to cultivate their biophilia, their love for the Earth.
During early childhood, children’s experience shape values, attitudes towards the natural world and will continuously be used throughout their lives. It is imperative that children discover their relationship with nature, foster conservation attitudes, and commit to an eco-lifestyle from a very young age to care for our fragile planet. When nature-rich children have an inherent connection to the natural world by participating in natural activities on a regular basis, they will have an affinity to and love of nature and have positive feelings and an appreciation for Mother Nature, creating positive bonds with nature, emotionally and intimately connected and a positive environmental ethic, growing an understanding that nature does matter and to respect Mother Nature, and will be interested in preserving nature and its diversity and increasing their knowledge of nature, acquired an intuitive, deep understanding of the natural world, which is the foundation for sustainable development. It will also evoke an urgency for protecting it and it will enable caring about environmental stewardship, fostering a positive attitude towards the environment, and cultivate an essential respect towards other living things and preserve natural environments. The more they are connected to nature on a personal level, the more environmentally concerned they will become which will foster empathy and lead to participating in environmentally responsible behaviours. Children are stimulated to be mindful to the environment and which intensifies their relationship with Mother Nature, having a sense of acting responsibly towards the environment and an appreciation of the beauty of the natural world.

There's no way that we can help children to learn to love and preserve this planet, if we don't give them direct experiences with the miracles and blessings of nature - Anita Olds.

Source: Dreams Time

As George Monbiot argues, “If children lose contact with nature they won’t fight for it. Most of those I know who fight for nature are people who spent their childhoods immersed in it. Without a feel for the texture and function of the natural world without an intensity of engagement almost impossible in the absence of early experience, people will not devote their lives to its protection”.

When children study nature, it will develop their natural science knowledge, and provide an opportunity to learn to appreciate nature’s special species and the rich diversity thereof. The natural world is a complex place of beauty, mystery and wonder. It is important to closely attune our senses to the workings of the natural world. When children are more knowledgeable about natural aspects to understand the natural world, and how it functions, they are able to develop a life-long attachment and appreciation to the natural world as well as species living within this ecosystems. Animals are a source of wonder for children. It can help to foster a responsibility towards living thing as they instinctively interact with animals. It is about learning to be compassionate and considered towards the environment and to living things. It is vital to help raise awareness of how and why one must care for the environment and what they, as young people, can help to do their bit for the Earth, but do so in an interactive and fun manner.
If all of these aspects do occur, the natural environment will be honoured and cherished and simultaneously children will have an emotional attachment to our beautiful Earth. Children are then fully encouraged to be enthusiastic about caring for our fragile planet and evoke of urgency for protecting it.
It is time to bring children back to their natural roots, so to speak, and to expose them to the many green environments on offer. It is long overdue for children to up their green credentials and to experience and fully immerse themselves in enjoying an outdoor experience. As seen by the myriad benefits of spending time outdoors, in a natural green setting, is needed in frequent, regular doses, a Vitamin G (Green) of some sort. Please exchange the virtual world for the real world. So, children (and adults), see you outside - our beautiful Mother Nature will be waiting! Green Rangers we have an important mission for you: Be a kind green heart, and have a green start by spending as much quality in the company of Mother Nature. She will forever be thankful and will definitely be sending some green love back.

The Oceans are the life blood of our Earth. Oceans cover over two-thirds of our blue planet. Oceans play a crucial role in our lives. Everybody depends on the oceans because it is one of the biggest resource for life on earth. As part of celebrating World Oceans Day, here is a look at the importance of oceans and why it is vital to protect and conserve such a valuable resource:
·        Oceans play an important part in the health and survival of all life. The ocean plays a life-giving role for not only people but also for the environment as it supports a multitude of life forms
·         The ocean connects people across the Earth, no matter where we live.
·       The oceans are essential to food security as it daily feed people. They are a significant source of
·         Oceans play a vital role in the climate system. It powers our climate as it regulate our climate.
·         Oceans produce at least half of all our Earth’s oxygen supply
·         It is the source of our freshwater
·         It offers a pharmacopoeia of potential medicines
·    Aesthetically it is home to a myriad of wildlife and provides us with spectacularly beautiful landscapes and provides immeasurable inspiration
·         It provides an array of recreational enjoyment opportunities
·         It also provides mineral and energy resources
·         It shapes the Earth’s characteristics
We depend on the ocean for our wellbeing. Oceans are the heartbeat of the planet, without oceans, life would definitely cease to exist. A healthy ocean definitely means a healthy planet. It is therefore important to conserve the diversity of oceanic life. Sustaining the ocean is undeniably important and we must do our utmost best to conserve and protect this vitally precious natural resource.

 Every time I slip into the ocean, it's like going home – Sylvia Earle.

Please take a moment to think about what your impact is doing to Mother Nature and how it will affect future generations to come and to be mindful of what your behaviour is doing to the environment and to protect the one planet we got.
We belong to the Earth

If you care about the earth, there are several ways in which you can participate and celebrate in Earth day by simply making a few little changes to your daily routine in order to make the world a better place, such as:

·         Plant trees
·         Reduce the use of plastic bags to avoid soil and water pollution
·         Recycle!
·         Pick up litter around your neighbourhood
·         Start composing by turning your food waste into soil
·         Wear environmental colours such as green, brown or blue clothes to show your support
·         Reduce your footprint to reduce your overall impact on the planet
·         Teach people that every day is earth day and to take care of the earth on daily basis
·         Use certified natural skin-care products
·         Use the cold water setting on your washer
·         Replace old, inefficient light bulbs with new energy-saving ones
·         Adjust Your Water Heater
·         Make a pledge to keep water clean and accessible
·         Buy local produce to help reduce your carbon footprint
·         Change your computer settings to turn off after 15 minutes of inactivity
·         Recycle your E-Waste
·         Go solar which is both energy cost effective and simultaneously helping to protect the
·         Lastly, something that is free and requires only your time is to take a walk in nature and simply
       appreciate it.

Change is possible, step by step, each individual can do their bit to save the environment from irreversible destruction. One person can’t do it alone, but as a group of nature enthusiasts it is possible to make a true and great difference. Mother Nature will truly thank us if we do!