One thing we don’t suffer from, however, is enthusiasm. If we could harness the genuine love and passion for our environment that people in the UK possess, and somehow transform it into a source of renewable energy, then we would be a carbon neutral country tomorrow.

When it comes to enthusiasm, vision, and an ability to celebrate the joy that nature brings, young people are undoubtedly leading the way. That, thankfully, is one of our greatest strengths, and a huge cause for optimism.

With that in mind, below are three examples of ways in which the RSPB is seeking to work with, empower, and support young people as they fight for the future of nature.

Access to nature

All conservation—from sweeping landscape scale recovery to the most routine and personal acts of wildlife-friendly decision-making—begins simply with access to nature. For most, it’s proximity to nature that sparks joy and pride in our incredible natural world, deepens our understanding of what flourishing ecosystems look like, and nurtures our sense of ecological connectedness.

Faced with cost-of-living pressures and a comparative scarcity of opportunities to get out into nature, young people are at risk of missing out on these experiences and are currently underrepresented on nature reserves across the UK. For this reason the RSPB have made access to our nature reserves, and thus to some of the nation’s most vibrant and biodiverse sites, absolutely free for young people between the ages of 16 and 24.

We know first-hand the transformative impact that access to nature can have for people and for the environment, and cannot wait to see the positive impact that more young people, with better access to nature, will bring.

Young voices for nature: 'Our beautiful wild'

As the future ambassadors and leaders of the conservation movement, young people possess the opportunity to broadly reimagine what conservation looks like, to redefine exactly what purpose it serves, and to state how it will achieve its aims. It’s already clear that this exciting process is already well under-way, with young people publicly exploring unique ways to celebrate nature, putting their talents towards to its protection, and celebrating and promoting nature in new and innovative ways.

The RSPB, and our Save Our Wild Isles partners - the WWF and the National Trust - have been privileged to facilitate some of that innovation by supporting Young Voices for Nature; a group of young people from across the UK who have banded together to speak out for nature.

The result has been the inspirational ‘Our Beautiful Wild’, a 20-minute film entirely written and conceived by young people, which showcases the voices and perspectives of young people and serves as a powerful and timely clarion call to protect our precious nature. We encourage everyone to watch and be inspired!

Headstart in conservation

The RSPB are also looking at new, innovative ways of giving the next generation of conservationists a helping hand into the sector, and particularly at ensuring access and equitability for groups of young people who are currently underrepresented in conservation. That was the founding principle of a recent traineeship programme we ran as part of our Greener Thames project in Essex and Kent.

This project saw four young people from a diverse range of backgrounds embark on a full-time, year long course in land management. A course that was rooted in practical instruction, however, quickly grew to reflect and accommodate the interests and passions of its participants. Machine and vehicle training was supplemented by a wider range of important skills that are also vital to simultaneously helping nature and helping people, including mental health awareness, public speaking, and leadership training, amongst others.

We’re incredibly proud of our trainees and are excited to see the positive impact that they are already having on our natural world.