One third of 16–24-year-olds in Britain are scared or overwhelmed at the prospect of climate change.
That’s according to a poll by the Woodland Trust, finding that 24% of those in this age group are considering not having children in the future out of fear of environmental issues.
Only 18% of pensioners said climate change worried them – but of everyone questioned, 86% admitted that being outdoors with nature raised their morale.
This is linked to the issue, the Woodland Trust stresses, as the UK currently has 13% of woodland cover, compared with a 37% average for Europe.
“We know that being outdoors and among nature has a positive effect on mental health – but the level of access to green space in the UK is simply not good enough,” Chief Executive Dr Darren Moorcroft said.
He added: “Young people are experiencing an epidemic of climate anxiety and are increasingly worried about the health of the planet. This new data shows that climate change is jeopardising more than just the environment, with people’s mental wellbeing and future life plans also affected.”
The report calls for there to be more emphasis on Britons visiting green spaces and having access to these areas – with only 16% of the population having access to two hectares of green spaces near their homes.
One of Woodland Trust’s young campaigners Naomi Tilley said: “I find resilience and channel my private anxiety by doing work that helps the climate crisis and nature decline.
“But yes, I’ve definitely experienced it in different ways, it filters into almost every part of my life, I would say. I definitely can see myself in the stats as someone that’s overwhelmed by it all at times.
“Being part of the movement to restore nature and to decarbonise society gives me a lot of strength but also spending time in nature a lot, without a doubt.”