Last child in the woods

Are humans hard-wired to need the natural world?
by Mike Cooney

NEW ZEALAND'S A REMARKABLY GREEN COUNTRY. Some may debate whether our 100% Pure marketing-tag is entirely accurate, but there’s no question Godzone boasts a great outdoors. We have forests and rivers everywhere, wide open spaces and scenery to die for – all in close proximity to our cities. And you don’t have to travel far to climb a tree. But look a little closer and you’ll notice that a worldwide trend is infiltrating little-old NZ. A growing number of Kiwi kids (and adults!) are spending much of their life in the not-so-great indoors. Trees are going unclimbed, huts un-built and bush unexplored. Fears of injury, lawsuits or even abduction are causing well-meaning parents to pull-the-plug on unstructured outdoor adventure. Instead, kids are plonking themselves down in front of the TV or computer, where risks are limited to getting cramp in their fingers from the Xbox control.

This lack of nature-time is having an effect, according to some experts. And the news isn’t too flash! We tracked down author and staunch nature-advocate, Richard Louv, and asked him what’s going on. His book Last Child in the Woods won him critical praise (and a couple of awards) for bringing nature-deficit disorder to public attention …

Issue 1 2012


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