From Christopher Robin to Peppa Pig, fictional portraits of a happy childhood have long painted characters surrounded by nature and the great outdoors.
However, some towns in the UK can offer a reality at least close to those idyllic visions, new research has found.
The Warwickshire town of Nuneaton and St Austell in Cornwall are the best places in the UK to live an eco-friendly childhood, according to a new survey.
The research measured the access to nature, allotments and public farms as well as the availability of second hand clothes shops and outdoor learning organisations such as forest schools, where children develop through regular activities in natural spaces.
Bath, Oxford, Worcester and Wrexham also featured in the top 10 of the rankings. Experts told i growing up around nature has a huge impact on children’s physical and mental health.
Craig Bennet, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said spending time in nature had huge physical and emotional benefits for children – creating a connection with the environment that should encourage them to protect it.
“The scientific evidence is extremely clear that access and contact with nature is incredibly important for our physical and mental wellbeing, both for individuals and communities at large,” he said.
“People aren’t likely to care about things unless they know about them and so the next generation is much more likely to take action on nature if they’ve experienced it,” he said.
Amelia Freer, a nutritional therapist and bestselling author, said: “Whether it’s swapping a fast-fashion romper for a hand-me-down, or attending a taster day at a forest school, green-parenting can be as simple as making small changes day by day to nourish our children’s connection with the natural world.”
Charlotte Lucas, co-founder of the Free Rangers Forest School Nursery, near Bath, said: “How can we expect children to feel ownership over the places they live without feeling a sense of deep connection? Playing and learning in nature promotes a full and sensory connection to place.”
“From spending time in parks and nature, to a family day-out helping at your local beach clean up, encouraging children to become more mindful of the environment can be simple and fun,” said Nick Torday, co-founder of Bower Collective, the eco home and personal product company that produced the report.
The report further boosts the case for immersing children in the environment after a series of government official statistics released in recent months showed that looking after the nature is important to 80 per cent of 8 to 15 year old’s in England, with 83 per cent saying they want to do more to protect it.
Meanwhile, 71 per cent said they recycle, 57 per cent switch off the lights and 52 per cent pick up litter, according to the statistics, taken from a survey of 2,048 children by the government agency Natural England.
And some 44 per cent said they walk, cycle, or take public transport as much as they can and 41 per cent and do things in the garden to help wildlife, they found.
The most eco-friendly places to bring up your children:
1.St Austell, Cornwall
6.Wrexham, Wrexham County
12.Worthing, West Sussex
How eco credentials were measured
To put together the tool, data was collected from a variety of sources such as Google Maps API to find the total number of farms and allotments across the UK, the National Trust, to get the number of family-friendly destinations.
Second hand website Preloved was trawled for the number of pre-owned childrenswear listings and the number of outdoor learning centres was also collated by researchers.
Once all the data points were collected, in order to normalise the data and ensure that the ranking metric was fair, a per-child formula (per 10,000 children aged 0-15) was used to score the towns and cities in the tool.