Aside from our burgeoning population, the major reason for almost all ecological declines can be attributed to our estrangement from the natural world.

Ritu Ghatourey said: “Every child is born a naturalist. (Their) eyes are, by nature, open to the glories of the stars, the beauty of the flowers, and the mystery of life.” This quote captures the innate sense of wonder that all children have about the natural world. You can see it in their eyes as they stroke an earthworm or watch a colony of ants diligently constructing their nest. However, those same eyes are now being drawn away and trained upon objects that provide instant, superficial gratification. We have seen this in our generation – their youthful admiration of wildlife leaching out of them until no fondness for nature remains.

The ideas, views and opinions of our generation matter more than anyone else’s. But paradoxically, those of us who stand up to voice our concerns find it isn’t easy. We struggle to make our voices heard, face enormous difficulties in finding a career in this sector, and feel massively undervalued. This situation is exacerbated by nature and wildlife being restricted to isolated areas. Remote rural nature reserves are completely inaccessible for many young people. Nature should not be something confined to a reserve which we occasionally visit as a special treat. It must be allowed to flourish in school grounds, gardens and towns.

Social media and new technologies are often blamed for our generation’s disconnection from nature - but all is not lost. In many instances, these technologies and platforms enable us to engage instantaneously with huge and important communities to highlight the beauty and importance of the natural world. For students in their final years at school or in higher education social media is particularly influential. However, nothing is better than the real thing, and many higher education institutes are ideally placed to reconnect young people with nature through their abundant green spaces. These leafy campuses should be compulsorily used to celebrate the importance of nature with this age group.

David Attenborough said: “No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.” It is crucial that young people are allowed to explore if we do not want them to exploit. They must be allowed to discover if we do not want them to disregard. We must cure this epidemic of Nature Deficit Disorder in young people.

BELLA LACK & GEORGIA LOCOCK, SCHOOL PUPIL & STUDENT