OMSCo launches Cub Scouts Global Conservation badge

10 November 2010

Squirrels live underground, otters live in caves and rabbits live in ditches: new research suggests the Playstation generation is out of touch with their wild side.

Children’s knowledge of some of Britain’s most iconic wildlife is so poor that more than a third (39%) aren’t able to recognise an otter, according to new research published today by the Organic Milk Cooperative (OMSCo) - to support the launch of the OMSCo Cub Scouts Global Conservation badge.

While classic tales like Tarka the Otter and Wind and the Willows were once the mainstay of British children, today’s Playstation generation is no longer familiar with the furry creatures that gave rise to their characters, or the places where they live.

When shown a photograph of an otter, 30% thought it was a badger, meerkat or mongoose, whilst nearly one in 10 (9%) had no idea what the animal was at all. What’s more, two thirds (67%) had no idea where an otter lives, with a fifth (21%) believing they live in nests and more than one in 10 (13%) believing they live in caves.

Research shows that one in 10 children thinks squirrels live underground and nearly a quarter (22%) think they live in a hedge. One in four children believes wild rabbits live in hutches like their domestic cousins, and nearly one in 10 (8%) of seven-year-olds thinks they live in a ditch. Even the fox is somewhat misunderstood; with one in seven children (14%) suggesting homes ranging from kennels to dustbins and even trees.

OMSCo conducted the research in support of its campaign to educate consumers about the benefits of switching to organic milk, including helping to support the natural habitats of Britain’s native wildlife.

“Our Cub Scouts campaign is a fantastic initiative that helps children enjoy the great outdoors and highlights the benefits of increased animal and plant life on organic farms," says Richard Hampton, sales and marketing director for OMSCo.

"Many children have never visited a working farm and have no idea where the milk on their breakfast table comes from. There is simply no substitute for getting into the countryside and experiencing nature first-hand to allow children to gain a better understanding of the world around them and the impact their choices will have on our environment.”

To gain the badge, Cub Scouts will be required to undertake a series of outdoor activities including taking part in a hedgerow safari, creating a forest garden or learning about our endangered dormouse.

The campaign has the support of BBC wildlife presenter, Chris Packham:

“It’s important that children understand the link between wildlife in the countryside and farming practice. Biodiversity advantages result from the lack of artificial pesticides on organic farms and other organic methods that encourage wildlife. For example, organic farmers are restricted as to when they can cut their hedges so they do not destroy important sources of food for birds and insects. Under organic regulations, they are also required to leave field margins as wildlife havens.”

Simon Carter, spokesperson for the Scout Association, says: “We understood immediately the link that OMSCo wanted to make between conservation and organic farming. We are delighted this partnership enables us to provide some fantastic educational resources that help us get Cub Scouts outside into the countryside getting their hands dirty and searching for wildlife in our UK hedgerows.”
To find out more about the Cub Scouts Global Conservation Badge activities visit www.teach-organic.org.uk






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