Leading article: Ramble on

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The Independent Online

There are few things that cloud the mind quite like nostalgia. We tend to remember our own childhoods as one long nature ramble. And so many will inspect the results of the survey by the BBC Wildlife magazine that shows children are increasingly disconnected from nature and respond with one of those shakes of the head that denotes sorrow, rather than surprise. Half of the youngsters were apparently unable to identify such fauna as daddy long legs, or to name flora such as bluebells.

Yet one cannot but help wonder whether if today's adults had been subjected to a similar survey when they were 10 years old they would have performed quite as well as they assume.

We should remember that a large part of the fun of the outdoors for children lies not in committing the taxonomy of species to memory but in tearing through the undergrowth.

By all means encourage children to play outdoors more. But let us not fall into the common trap of assuming that modern childhood is less inquisitive and earthy than that enjoyed by previous generations.

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