New poll shows children like to be outdoors and enjoy wild places

Saturday 24th December 2016

Children happy outdoorsChildren happy outdoors - Matthew Roberts

Children rarely see two wild animals featured in John Lewis Christmas advert

At a time when people prepare to gather indoors for Christmas, a new poll published today shows that an overwhelming majority of children aged 8 – 15 years old feel happy being outdoors, seeing wildlife around them and enjoy visiting wild places. The poll also reveals that two of the four animals – badgers and hedgehogs – depicted in John Lewis’s Christmas advert are rarely seen by children in the wild.

The poll of over a thousand children by YouGov was commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts following the release of the John Lewis Christmas advert #BusterTheBoxer. The Wildlife Trusts are John Lewis’s Christmas campaign charity partner; the advert celebrates the joy of encountering wildlife in a garden using a cast of wild creatures - a fox, badger, squirrel and hedgehog.

The online poll* questioned 1,200 children aged 8 – 15 years old at the end of November 2016. It reveals:

  • 89% children agreed that being outdoors makes them happy
  • 81% like seeing wildlife in their garden or local area like birds or trees
  • 80% enjoy visiting wild places like rivers, lakes or woodlands
  • 70% enjoy playing outside e.g. climbing trees and building dens

The poll also asked children when they last saw the animals depicted in the advert in the wild. Focusing on the highest percentages, it reveals that:

  • Badger – 67% had never seen one in the wild
  • Hedgehog – 20% saw one more than a year ago; 25% had never seen one in the wild
  • Fox – 23% had never seen one in the wild
  • Squirrel – 45% saw one in the last week

Dominic Higgins, The Wildlife Trusts’ Nature & Wellbeing manager, says:

At a time when it’s increasingly hard for children to spend time in wild places – whether because of parental worries, time pressures or simply absence of wild places near to where people live – this new poll sends a clear message: children are happy outdoors and benefit enormously from contact with nature. It also shows that we must do all we can to ensure there are wild havens close to where people live – whether it’s by making our own gardens wilder or taking action to protect our local community green spaces.”

Reflections on the species in the poll:

Badger: whilst it’s sad that 67% children have never seen this animal in the wild this is probably because it’s a nocturnal creature of the countryside. Some Wildlife Trusts offer children the chance to go on badger walks and visit badger hides to see them in the wild, although it does mean staying up late.

Hedgehog (Tom Marshall)

Hedgehog: This species is one of 56% of UK species that have declined over the last 50 years (hedgehog numbers have fallen by 30% in 10 years - there are now thought to be fewer than one million left in the UK.)* It’s terribly sad that children aren’t seeing these and other wild creatures any more – The Wildlife Trusts are working hard to stop wild species and the habitats they need from disappearing. Help hedgehogs in your garden by cutting a 5 inch squared hole at the bottom of your garden fence and make your garden a hedgehog haven by leaving log and leaf piles, wild areas for nesting sites and avoid using slug pellets – more ideas here!

Fox: The fox is thriving everywhere, town and country. If children are getting outdoors, particularly in the evenings, there’s every likelihood of seeing foxes frequently.

Squirrel: If children are getting outdoors, even if it’s simply to walk to school, they should be seeing a squirrel every day because grey squirrels are a common species (less so, red squirrels.) So we need to allow children to spend more time outside to reach a 100% figure/within the last week.

Dominic Higgins continues:

“These findings are complex and illustrate the parallel problems of lack of access to natural places and wildlife decline. It’s harder and harder for children to spend time enjoying the wild places which make them happy. Plus, our natural environment is under huge pressure and wild creatures and plants are under threat. We must do all we can to ensure our natural heritage is protected for future generations so that it’s still there for these children and their children to enjoy. As Sir David Attenborough said recently, ‘It's our responsibility to create a planet that's not just a home for us, but for all life on Planet Earth.’

The Wildlife Trusts are offering a variety of ways that children can enjoy the outdoors and have a wild time this Christmas:



Emma Robertshaw, Media Manager, The Wildlife Trusts: 01636 670015 / 07779 657515


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,201 children. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th - 28th November 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB children (aged 8 to 15).

Hedgehog statistics*

56% of UK species in decline – source State of Nature report 2016. Between 1970 and 2013, 56% of species declined, with 40% showing strong or moderate declines. 44% of species increased, with 29% showing strong or moderate increases. Between 2002 and 2013, 53% of species declined and 47% increased. These measures were based on quantitative trends for almost 4,000 terrestrial and freshwater species in the UK. Info on hedgehog declines thanks to British Hedgehog Preservation Society and PTES here.

#BusterTheBoxer Christmas advert and John Lewis Christmas charity partnership

10% of the sale of soft toys from the advert will be donated to The Wildlife Trusts, to allow us to inspire even more children to love British wildlife. You can still buy your cuddly friend here! The retailer has also worked with The Wildlife Trusts on a number of fun, educational tools which will be available online, to encourage more children to develop an interest in British wildlife. The media release about the Christmas charity partnership is here. The advert has been viewed over 54 million times on social media channels.

The Wildlife Trusts

There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK. All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. We have more than 800,000 members including 150,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch. Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas. We manage around 2,300 nature reserves and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife. Every year we work with thousands of schools and our nature reserves and visitor centres receive millions of visitors. Each Wildlife Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas.

John Lewis

John Lewis operates 48 John Lewis shops across the UK (33 department stores, 12 John Lewis at home and shops at St Pancras International and Heathrow Terminal 2) as well as It is part of the John Lewis Partnership, the UK's largest example of worker co-ownership and all 30,000 John Lewis staff are Partners in the business.

John Lewis stocks more than 350,000 separate lines in its department stores and across fashion, home and technology, and was named 'Best In-Store Experience', 'Best Clothing Retailer,' 'Best Electricals Retailer,' 'Best Furniture Retailer,' 'Best Homewares Retailer' and 'Best Click & Collect Retailer' in the 2016 Verdict Customer Satisfaction awards. is consistently ranked one of the top online shopping destinations in the UK. John Lewis Insurance offers a range of comprehensive insurance products - home, car, wedding and event, travel and pet insurance and life cover - delivering the values of expertise, trust and customer service expected from the John Lewis brand.

You can follow John Lewis on the following social media channels:


Photo credits:
Children - Matthew Roberts, hedgehog - Tom Marshall