What kids can do to help save the planet

Saving the planet and everything that lives on it is more important to children than anyone, because they’ll have to live with any losses much longer than their parents.

With that in mind, the World Wildlife Fund (wwf.org.uk) (WWF), which has just published its flagship Living Planet Report  revealing nature is being destroyed by humans at a rate never seen before, has issued separate information to help children and young people understand what they can do to help stop this “catastrophic decline” – which includes, for example,  African elephant populations in the Central African Republic declining by up to 98%.

The Living Planet Index, which tracks what’s happening in around 21,000 groups of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, shows wildlife populations around the world have, on average, declined by 68% since 1970, and the trend isn’t slowing down.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Sir David Attenborough in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, filming his feature documentary David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet (Conor McDonnell/WWF-UK/PA)</figcaption>
Sir David Attenborough in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, filming his feature documentary David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet (Conor McDonnell/WWF-UK/PA)

WWF ambassador Sir David Attenborough says the world needs to alter its perspective on nature, pointing out there has to be: “A change from viewing nature as something that’s optional or ‘nice to have’ to the single greatest ally we have in restoring balance to our world.”

The WWF says intensive agriculture, deforestation and the conversion of wild spaces into farmland are among the main causes of nature loss, while overfishing is “wreaking havoc” with marine life.

It says 75% of the Earth’s ice-free land surface has been significantly altered, most of the oceans are polluted, and 90% of wetland area has been lost. This destruction of ecosystems has led to a million species (500,000 animals and plants, and 500,000 insects) being threatened with extinction over the next 100 years.

Single-use plastics have infiltrated our natural world and even our diets. Around eight million tonnes of plastic are thought to end up in our oceans every year, causing serious harm to wildlife.

Try at home: Make sure you have a reusable bag with you when you go to a shop and try to find loose fruit and vegetables where possible that aren’t wrapped in plastic. If you spot a brand or supermarket continuing to use lots of single-use plastic, call them out.